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Westfield Gas + Electric wants you and your family to be safe this heating season

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas formed by the burning of fossil fuels. Since CO has no odor, color, or taste, it cannot be detected by our senses. When dangerous concentrations of the gas build up indoors, people and pets can become sick with symptoms that are similar to the flu. Carbon monoxide is often called the “silent killer” because people ignore the early signs of poisoning and eventually lose consciousness. Prolonged exposure to this harmful substance claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and impacts thousands more.

While this poisonous gas is found in the fumes produced by fuel-burning items, including gas and oil-burning furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, gas and wood stoves, portable generators, motor vehicles, and charcoal grills, keeping your family and loved ones safe is easy when you follow these tips:

  • Install battery-operated CO detectors on every level of your home and within 10 feet of bedroom doors.
  • Test CO detectors regularly to ensure they’re functioning properly, change batteries every six months, and replace detectors every five to seven years.
  • Have your oil or gas-burning furnace inspected yearly.
  • Mark the location of your home’s exhaust vents so you can find them easily should they become buried in a snowstorm.  It’s important to keep them clear of snow build-up.
  • Only use portable generators outdoors, keeping them at least 20 feet away and downwind from the house.  Be sure there are no openings or vents that would allow the exhaust to enter your home.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning include mild headache and breathlessness with moderate exercise. Continued exposure can lead to more severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Higher levels of CO inhalation can lead to loss of consciousness and death. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms, so installing CO detectors in your home provides the best protection from carbon monoxide. If you suspect poisoning, or if your CO detector sounds an alarm, don’t ignore it.  Retreat to fresh air immediately and call for help by dialing 911 or the Westfield Gas + Electric emergency number at 413-572-0000.  Additional resources are available on the Safety page of our website.