National Grid: Take safety precautions before firing up furnace

National Grid: Take safety precautions before firing up furnace

According to officials at National Grid, now is the time to start thinking about making sure you and your family are safe from the potentially deadly effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The safety of the public is a priority for National Grid," said Timothy F. Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island. "Taking proper safety precautions now can prevent senseless tragedies from occurring in the months ahead."

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly if left undetected. It is the byproduct of the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, butane, propane, wood, coal, heating oil, kerosene and gasoline. Common sources of carbon monoxide include malfunctioning forced-air furnaces, kerosene space heaters, natural gas ranges, wood stoves, fireplaces and motor vehicle engines. During the heating season when windows and doors are tightly shut, fresh air is sealed out, creating the potential for carbon monoxide to build up over time. National Grid reminds its customers of the following safety information to help identify and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. Depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control.

If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and call 911 first. After calling 911, call the Rhode Island National Grid emergency contact number at 800-640-1595. Do not return to your home until the carbon monoxide source is found.

* Carbon monoxide prevention tips:

Arrange for an annual check of your heating system by a licensed professional heating contractor.

Check chimneys or flues for debris, bird nests or other blockages, and have them cleaned periodically.

Be sure space heaters and wood stoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Install a government-approved home carbon monoxide detector on every floor.