Safety Tips on Home Heating & Carbon Monoxide

Published on February 02, 2022

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Preventable

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas produced by burning fossil fuels and wood. In general, properly installed, maintained, and ventilated natural gas appliances produce very little to no CO. If not, these may release unsafe levels of CO into a home, which can be dangerous or fatal.

Know the Signs & Take Action

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Because CO is hard to detect, someone with mild poisoning may go to sleep and continue to breathe it until severe illness or death can occur. People may also mistake their symptoms for a viral infection like the flu.

If you suspect a problem with a gas appliance or meter, call the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) immediately at (650) 329-2579. We will dispatch a field service representative to conduct a thorough inspection.

Ways to Stay Safe & Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Install CO detectors in your home, particularly near sleeping areas, to warn you when concentrations become dangerously high. Check the batteries at least every six months.
  • Never use products inside the home that can emit dangerous levels of CO, such as generators, barbecues, propane heaters and charcoal.
  • Ventilate all natural gas water heaters, other appliances, and fireplaces to the outside.
  • Inspect the flame of natural gas furnaces and appliances - a blue flame indicates complete combustion and proper working order. A lazy, yellow or white flame is a warning sign that the appliance is not burning properly and could be producing CO.
  • Do not idle cars inside a garage and don’t allow foreign objects to block tailpipe emissions.

Consider Making the Switch to Electric

  • Consider switching out natural gas appliances with electric to avoid CO risk and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Receive a rebate of up to $1,500 for installing an electric Heat Pump Water Heater! Learn more at our Heat Pump Water Heater webpage.
  • Contact the Home Efficiency Genie for an assessment of your home for efficiency savings, home comfort, and opportunities to switch from natural gas to electric. Visit the Home Efficiency Genie webpage or call (650) 713-3411 for free phone advice and to sign up for a Genie House Call. 
  • Cook with induction or an electric stove rather than gas. Research from Stanford scientists find that the climate and health impacts of natural gas stoves are greater than previously thought and dangerous to the air you breathe in your home. 

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