The Gas Company offers carbon monoxide prevention tips

Media Contact:
Denise King

Southern California Gas Co.

(877) 866-2066


        LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1, 2006 – In the wake of a tragic and preventable incident in Palmdale today where a family was taken to a local hospital with carbon monoxide symptoms, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) says it is essential that home furnaces are properly maintained and operated for customer safety.

        “Carbon-monoxide poisoning is preventable through proper installation, maintenance and use of home heating units,” said Michelle Mueller, vice president of customer services at The Gas Company.   She said the Palmdale incident involved a forced-air unit that was operated without the blower compartment door properly in place, resulting in unsafe furnace operation.

        Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, resulting in incomplete combustion.  In the case of home appliances, this can be caused by improper installation, poor maintenance, or improper use.  Mild exposure to carbon monoxide may result in flue-like symptoms. However, extensive carbon monoxide exposure can be life-threatening.

        The Gas Company offers these furnace safety tips:

        •  Vacuum and clean regularly around the heater, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a buildup of dust and lint. Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. The filter should be checked regularly and cleaned or replaced if necessary.

        •  When installing a new or clean filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly.  Never operate the furnace without the front panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

        • Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.

        • Make sure the furnace or appliance is venting properly. Signs of improper venting include soot around the appliance or moisture on the inside of windows when the appliance is on.
        • Never use an oven or bring a charcoal grill indoors for heat.

        The Gas Company is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 19.8 million consumers through 5.6 million meters.  The company’s service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in most of central and Southern California.  The Gas Company strives to provide exceptional customer service to enhance the quality of life in the community.  The Gas Company is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).  Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company.