What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can build up inside a home. Such buildup usually happens when hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline, propane, natural gas, diesel and wood don’t fully burn. The most common way people are exposed to toxic levels of carbon monoxide is when they leave a gasoline or diesel-powered car running inside a garage. Carbon monoxide can also be produced due to problems with ovens, water heaters, furnaces and other types of systems and equipment.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide gas, but when a person is exposed they usually report flu-like symptoms: a headache, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea and tightness in the chest, or some combination of these. Breathing large amounts of carbon monoxide can make a person ill and can even cause death. If someone you know experiences these symptoms and you think they have been exposed to carbon monoxide, do the following:
- Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention.
- Stop using the equipment that might be causing carbon monoxide buildup.
- Call Atmos Energy's emergency number: 866-322-8667.
- Only use the suspected equipment again if it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by a qualified plumber or heating contractor.
Use the Right Equipment, in the Right Way
Some steps you can take to prevent carbon monoxide buildup at home are:
- Be sure your all your appliances are properly installed, adjusted and operated.
- Have your heating system inspected each year by a qualified repair person.
- Check vents on water heaters, dryers and other equipment to be sure air can flow through, without being blocked by bird nests, snow or other material.
- Do not try to use an oven to heat the house, as ovens are not designed or built for that purpose.
- Take special care with gas space heaters, as they need plenty of fresh air to burn fuel properly but are often installed without vents.