The Gas Company offers safety tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Dec 9, 2010

Media Contact:
Raul Gordillo

Southern California Gas Co.

(877) 643-2331



        LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9, 2010 – The recent cold weather in Southern California has caused people to turn up their furnaces and, for some, be exposed to potential carbon monoxide poisoning.  Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is urging customers to ensure home heating equipment is operating safely by taking advantage of the utility’s free furnace inspections.

        “While carbon monoxide poisoning incidents are rare, we usually see a rise in the number of occurrences when the weather gets really cold,” said Bret Lane, vice president of field services for The Gas Company.  “Often, the cause of carbon monoxide in a home is due to a problem with the furnace, so we’re urging customers to be safe and get their furnaces inspected by a licensed, qualified professional.” 

        The utility also warns against using ovens, ranges or outdoor barbecues for home heating.  These appliances are not designed for such use and pose a severe and potentially fatal risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if used for space heating. 

        The Gas Company offers furnace safety checks at no cost to customers, or customers can call a licensed, qualified professional to ensure their appliances are operating properly.   To schedule an appointment for a furnace inspection by The Gas Company, visit or call toll-free at (800) 427-2200 or (800) 342-4545 in Spanish.           

        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, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. When incomplete combustion occurs, carbon monoxide is produced, and this can potentially lead to carbon monoxide poisoning to a family.

        The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning produce unexplained flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.  Since carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death.

        Signs that may indicate the presence of carbon monoxide:
        • A yellow, large and unsteady gas appliance burner flame.
        • An unusual pungent odor when the appliance is operating. This may indicate the creation of aldehydes, a by-product of incomplete combustion.
        • Unexplained nausea, drowsiness and flu-like symptoms.

        What to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home:
        • If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
        • Evacuate the premises and call 911.
        • Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
        • Contact The Gas Company or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.

        Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years.  It is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 20.7 million consumers through nearly 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities.  The company’s service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border.  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.  To learn more, go to