As cold temperatures and snow continue through another Michigan winter, DTE Energy reminds customers to be safe when using natural gas.
In the heating season especially, DTE Energy customers can take action to prevent carbon monoxide exposure.
Carbon monoxide, or "CO," is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and non-irritating gas that can be fatal if allowed to build up indoors. CO is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including charcoal, coal, gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, oil, propane and wood. CO can be found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges and furnaces.
"At DTE Energy, safety is our #1 priority for our customers and employees in our daily work to operate a safe and reliable natural gas system," said Mark Stiers, DTE Gas president and chief operating officer. "We want to let our customers know that safety is important in their daily lives as well."
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as "flu-like." CO poisoning also can cause you to lose consciousness.
Carbon monoxide buildup in a home is very preventable. To avoid exposure, DTE urges customers to:
- Install carbon monoxide detectors on a wall or ceiling near all sleeping areas
- Check all CO detectors to ensure they are working properly
- Keep intake and exhaust vents for heating equipment free from snow, ice and debris for safe and efficient operation
- Carefully remove snow from the roof and chimney of mobile and manufactured homes to allow the furnace to function properly
- Use only approved fuel-burning appliances for heat and/or supplemental heat
- Have a professional check the furnace and other fuel-burning appliances annually
- Never use an oven or burners for supplemental heat
- Never operate generators indoors
Anyone suspecting a carbon monoxide problem should immediately call 911, open doors and windows, leave the house or building, and seek medical attention.