Safety Tips

Guard Against CO Poisoning

MidAmerican Energy urges its customers to take the time to ensure that their homes are safe. A particular danger in the home-heating season is carbon monoxide poisoning. Approximately 200 people in the U.S. die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with fuel-burning heating equipment in the home, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Any fuel that is incompletely burned produces carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas. The gas can leak from faulty furnaces or fuel-fired heaters or can be trapped inside by a blocked chimney or flue. Burning charcoal inside the house or running an automobile engine in an attached garage also will produce carbon monoxide in the home.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like illnesses. They include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea and irregular breathing.

To guard against carbon monoxide poisoning, consumers should have their home-heating systems (including chimneys and flues) inspected each year for proper operation and potential leakage. Inspectors should check all heating appliances and their electrical and mechanical components, thermostat controls and automatic safety devices.

In addition, properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level. Exposure to a low concentration over several hours can be as dangerous as exposure to high carbon monoxide levels for a few minutes. Newer model sensors will detect both conditions.

The devices are relatively inexpensive and every home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level.