Keeping Your Family Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning this Winter

When the weather gets chilly at night and people turn to various means to heat their home, we sometimes hear news stories about carbon monoxide poisoning. With safety as our top priority for the communities we serve, we want to share some simple preventative steps you can take to keep your family safe this winter.

Often referred to as an invisible killer, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when fuels such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood are burned incompletely. While carbon monoxide poisoning incidents are rare, they tend to occur more often when the weather gets cold and residents heat their homes.

The single most important thing you can do to prevent poisoning is to install carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of your home to provide early warning of a problem. Alarms should be checked regularly to ensure they are working properly and replaced every 5 to 7 years.

Safety Tips for Gas Appliances

We also want to remind customers that even with carbon monoxide alarms, regular natural gas appliance maintenance is important. Customers should have their home’s natural gas appliances checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor or plumber. SDG&E also offers free checks to ensure all appliances are operating safely and efficiently. To schedule a free safety inspection, call SDG&E at 800-411-7343 or schedule an appointment online through our Gas Appliance Check page.

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

  • Never use gas ovens or other appliances for space heating.
  • Check the batteries in carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms regularly and replace as needed.
  • 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.