(NEWARK, N.J. – January 29, 2019) Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), New Jersey’s largest utility, cautions that while carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a year-round threat, it is more common in cold weather when more fuel-burning appliances are in use. PSE&G urges customers to take extra preventative measures this winter to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, and maintain a heightened awareness of the symptoms. 

CO is odorless, tasteless and can be deadly. Small amounts of CO are in the air whenever fuel such as oil, natural gas, coal or wood burns. These small amounts usually are not harmful. However, if a heating system or chimney is not working properly, too much CO can build up in the air and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Symptoms of poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Symptoms can occur immediately or gradually after long-term exposure. People who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing any of these warning signs. CO can affect people of all ages, but infants and children are even more susceptible than adults. 

For safety’s sake:

  • The first line of defense against CO poisoning is to operate and maintain all fuel-burning appliances properly. These appliances include furnaces, water heaters, ranges, space heaters and clothes dryers. Improperly vented fireplaces and charcoal grills can also emit CO. Never use ovens or clothes dryers to heat the house.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors as back-up protection, not as a substitute for proper use and maintenance of the fuel-burning appliances. CO alarms can provide an early warning to consumers before CO builds up to a dangerous level. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing a carbon monoxide alarm in every area of your house or business. If you install just one alarm, it should be placed near the sleeping rooms of the house. Check the batteries regularly.
  • Do not allow vehicles, lawn mowers, snow blowers or any gasoline-powered engine to idle in a garage, basement or any enclosed space. CO can drift into the living space and create a hazardous situation.
  • Add the emergency service line of your natural gas provider to mobile phone contacts. PSE&G’s emergency service line is 1-800-880-PSEG(7734).
  • If you think high levels of CO are in your home or business: Go outside! If there’s a medical emergency, such as someone falling unconscious, get the person outside to fresh air and call 911. Next, call PSE&G’s emergency service line. Wait outside, or go to a neighbor’s home, until help arrives.