DOWNEY - With cold weather forecasted this weekend, the Southern California Gas Company is offering free furnace inspections to ensure that customers' home heating equipment is operating safely.Faulty furnaces can cause leaks of carbon monoxide, an colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. "While carbon monoxide poisoning incidents are rare, we usually see a rise in the number of occurrences when the weather gets really cold," said Bret Lane, vice president of field services for the Gas Company. "Often, the cause of carbon monoxide in a home is due to a problem with the furnace, so we're urging customers to be safe and get their furnaces inspected by a licensed, qualified professional." The utility also warns against using ovens, ranges or outdoor barbecues for home heating. These appliances are not designed for such use and pose a potentially fatal rise of carbon monoxide poisoning if used for space heating, officials said. The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning include unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion. Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide include a large, yellow and unsteady gas appliance burner flame, and an unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present, officials recommend evacuating the home and calling 911. Customers of the Gas Company can schedule a free inspection by calling (800) 427-2200 or going to www.socalgas.com/service.
********** Published: December 16, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 35