Safety hazards and other emergencies can occur without warning. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) crews often team up with public safety service personnel to respond to emergencies such as fires, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2016, NIPSCO responded to more than 40,000 such emergencies. In an effort to help reduce these hazards, NIPSCO is reminding customers to be prepared for two common winter emergencies, Carbon monoxide poisoning and Gas Leaks.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that comes from burning fuels such as coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas and fuel oil. It can be emitted by furnaces, generators, space heaters, stoves, fireplaces, water heaters and automobile exhaust. Carbon monoxide can be poisonous if allowed to build up in enclosed spaces.
CO poisoning causes flu-like symptoms, including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. At high levels, it can cause loss of consciousness and death. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, you should get fresh air immediately and call 911.
Take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
· Have your furnace inspected by a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to make sure it’s operating safely and efficiently.
· Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home near the bedrooms, making sure it’s clear of furniture or draperies. Test the battery regularly.
· Do not use ovens, gas ranges or grills to heat your home.
· Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage or other enclosed area.
· Never leave a car or lawn mower engine running in a shed, garage or any enclosed space.
Gas leaks: Natural gas is odorless, but natural gas providers like NIPSCO add a scent similar to rotten eggs so you can detect if there’s a leak in your home.
Take these immediate actions if you smell natural gas:
· Do NOT light matches, turn electrical switches on or off, or use a telephone in the building
· If you smell gas inside your home or business, get out immediately.
· From a safe place, call 911 and NIPSCO’s emergency number 1-800-634-3524 to report the leak. Remain outside until NIPSCO can send someone to check on the source of the odor.