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PG&E Urges Customers to Protect Themselves From Dangerous Carbon Monoxide

Release Date: December 30, 2013
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – As temperatures fluctuate this winter, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) urges customers to be mindful of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide. Several tragic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning take place each year during the winter months as people try to stay warm using a variety of heat sources.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that is created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and wood. If unsafe concentrations of carbon monoxide are present but not detected, the result can be fatal.

Customers should never use generators, or charcoal or barbeque grills inside the home. When using the fireplace to stay warm, make sure the flue is open, so the byproducts of combustion can vent safely through the chimney.

Many customers in PG&E's service area use natural gas furnaces to stay warm. PG&E reminds customers to make sure all natural gas furnaces and appliances inside the home are in proper working order. Natural gas appliances that do not burn properly can produce carbon monoxide. Customers should inspect the flame on all gas appliances. A blue flame indicates complete combustion and that the appliance is working properly. A lazy, yellow or white flame is a warning sign that the appliance is not burning properly and could be producing carbon monoxide.

If customers suspect there is a problem with a natural gas appliance inside their home, they should call PG&E immediately at 1-800-PGE-5000. A gas service representative will be dispatched to do a thorough inspection.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and convulsions. Because carbon monoxide is hard to detect, someone with mild poisoning can go to sleep and continue to breathe the carbon monoxide until severe illness or death occurs. People may also mistake their symptoms for a viral infection like the flu. If you or someone you know develops symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, Mayo Clinic recommendations can be found at the following link: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/carbon-monoxide/DS00648/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

To help prevent cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, PG&E offers the following tips to keep customers healthy and safe:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector to warn you if concentrations become dangerously high. As of July 2011, all California single-family homes are required by law to have one. Place it near sleeping areas, where they can wake you.
  • When using the fireplace, make sure the flue is open and the chimney is venting properly.
  • Do not idle cars inside the garage, and do not allow snow to block tailpipe emissions when operating a vehicle outdoors.
  • Make sure water heaters and other natural gas appliances have proper ventilation. Older appliances and room heaters that are not vented externally should be inspected annually.
  • Have a trained professional inspect furnaces and other gas appliances. To schedule an inspection with PG&E, customers can call 1-800-PGE-5000 or visit our website at www.pge.com.
  • Never use generators, propane heaters, barbeques or charcoal indoors.
  • Ensure that generators are properly installed and operated outdoors. For more generator safety tips, please visit www.pge.com/generator/.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/ and www.pgecurrents.com.

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