Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect because it can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted. Undetected, carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly, which is why following these safety tips is so important:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home.
  • Check your carbon monoxide detectors annually to make sure they are working properly.
  • Replace your carbon monoxide detectors every 3-5 years, as needed.

How does carbon monoxide enter my home?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is formed when carbon-based fuels – such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil or wood – don’t burn completely (incomplete combustion). 

Besides my carbon monoxide detector alarming, what are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak?

When you’re using an appliance that runs on natural gas, pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • A yellow, large and unsteady burner flame (except in natural gas fireplace logs).
  • Built-up soot in the appliance.
  • An unusual, pungent odor that can indicate the presence of another byproduct of incomplete combustion.
  • Triggering of a carbon monoxide detector or alarm.
  • Household members with unexplained nausea, drowsiness, mental confusion or flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, vomiting or shortness of breath. 

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide?

  1. Act immediately and take the following steps:
  2. Immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance, if it’s safe to do so.
  3. Get everyone out of the house and call 911.
  4. Seek medical attention for anyone who feels ill.
  5. Arrange an inspection immediately and don’t use the appliance until a qualified, licensed professional confirms it’s safe. We can perform this inspection if you’re an SDG&E gas customer; call 1-800-411-7343.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide from being produced?

To help prevent carbon monoxide from being produced in the first place, keep your natural gas appliances in good working order. Schedule an annual safety checkup  with us or a qualified, licensed professional.

In addition to regular inspections, here are some simple tips to help you to stay safe:

  • Never use gas ovens or other appliances for space heating.
  • Periodically check gas appliances to make sure pilot lights and burner flames are clear blue. A soft yellow flame can indicate carbon monoxide.
  • Always make sure the damper is open when using a gas fireplace. Using an unvented gas fireplace is dangerous and violates the California Health and Safety Code.

Carbon monoxide exposure is very dangerous! Help keep our community safe by spreading these safety tips!