With the arrival of cooler weather, also comes the annual words of advice being offered by Ameren-Missouri when it comes to natural gas safety.
Pam Harrison, director of gas operations for Ameren, says that the emergency rooms are popular destinations during this time of the year when it comes to people suffering from accidental carbon monoxide poisonings.
Harrison also offers several tips to keep you from being one of those ER visitors.
The tips include: cleaning your vents on gas fireplaces before lighting them up for the first time this year, have your furnace inspected before using it for the winter, make sure burners and ovens using gas are turned off when not in use and do NOT use natural gas appliances to heat your home.
One other tip, if you detect a possible gas leak in your home or business, vacate immediately without turning anything on or off, and call for help.
ST. LOUIS (Nov. 22, 2021) – With fall in full swing and more people turning on the heat, Ameren Missouri is encouraging customers to review natural gas safety measures.
Sixty percent of Missourians will heat their home with natural gas this winter, and every day Ameren Missouri delivers natural gas to more than 130,000 customers. Natural gas is a safe and efficient source of energy when used properly, but it’s important to understand the potential hazards such as a gas leak or carbon monoxide exposure.
“We never compromise on safety at Ameren Missouri, and we want customers to know what to prepare for should their gas appliances not function properly,” said Pam Harrison, director of gas operations at Ameren Missouri. “Each year, hundreds of people in Missouri visit the emergency room for accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Taking some easy steps to prepare your home can help safeguard your family from possible exposure.”
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, odorless gas produced when appliances don’t burn their natural gas completely. High concentrations of CO are dangerous, with the potential to seriously harm in as little as five minutes.
As a first line of defense, install carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping, and test them monthly. When choosing a CO detector, be sure that it has the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) stamp of approval to ensure the detector will consistently activate when exposed to CO at unsafe levels.
“Carbon monoxide detectors are as essential as smoke detectors, and every home should have one. If carbon monoxide is released, every minute counts. A working detector can help your family escape a potentially life-threatening situation,” Harrison said.
Take the following precautions for popular gas appliances:
- Gas fireplaces: Clean your vent of any cobwebs, leaves or other debris that may have accumulated during the offseason. Clogged vents can create unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, as well as pose a fire hazard. Also, dust your fireplace’s electric blower to ensure that you aren’t circulating dirty air throughout your home when operating your fireplace.
- Furnaces: Have a qualified heating contractor inspect your furnace annually. A properly tuned furnace saves energy and helps avoid costly repairs. Do not use or store paint strippers, fabric or water softeners, bleach, adhesives, or salt for melting ice near your furnace as this could lead to corrosion. Clean or replace your furnace filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Gas stoves and ovens: Make sure burners and ovens are fully turned off after use. In the event of a power outage, do not use natural gas stove burners or the oven to heat your home.
There are several visible signs that indicate the presence of carbon monoxide, including:
- Black soot on or around air registers, flues, burners or access openings to appliances.
- Condensation or moisture on the inside surface of windows.
- Unexplained illness or death of indoor pets.
- Abnormal flame characteristics such as a yellow gas flame instead of blue, a flame rolling out of the front of an appliance, or a flame lifting off the burner.
If anyone in your home is experiencing flu-like symptoms and you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside and call 911. You can also contact the Missouri Poison Center at 1.800.222.1222 for more information.
Ameren Missouri responds to gas leak calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and there is never a charge to the customer to investigate a gas leak. If you smell an odor, or hear a hissing or leaking sound, evacuate immediately, taking all people and pets with you. Once you are safe, call Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583. For more natural gas safety tips, visit AmerenMissouri.com/NaturalGas.
To help manage utility costs this winter, sign up for Ameren Missouri’s Budget Billing program. This allows customers to spread their energy costs over a longer period and makes monthly statements more manageable. With Budget Billing, customer bills are calculated using the average monthly bill amount based on the last 12 months. Customers can enroll in Budget Billing at no cost by visiting AmerenMissouri.com/Budget.
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company’s electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri’s mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 132,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company’s service area covers 64 counties and more than 500 communities, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.