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Monday, Dec 30 2013 02:28 PM

PG&E issues reminder on carbon monoxide dangers

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

It strikes without warning every year around this time, sometimes killing entire families as they sleep.

The worst part is that carbon monoxide poisoning is usually avoidable.

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AVOID CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

* Never use generators, propane heaters, barbecues or charcoal indoors.

* Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas.

* Make sure the flue is open before using a fireplace.

* Avoid idling cars inside a garage.

* Clear away snow from idling vehicles' tailpipes.

* Verify that natural gas appliances such as water heaters have proper ventilation.

* Have room heaters and older gas appliances inspected annually. PG&E customers can schedule a professional inspection by calling 800-PGE-5000 (800-743-5000).

* To ensure generators are properly installed and operated outdoors, consult safety tips online at pge.com/generator.

Source: Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

In an effort to prevent such tragedies, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. issued a reminder Monday about the dangers associated with the colorless, tasteless, odorless gas.

Carbon monoxide is released during partial combustion of fossil fuels and wood. It is most dangerous when produced indoors by an improperly ventilated gas appliance, or when a barbecue or other outdoor heating source is brought inside a home.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be mistaken for flu: headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and convulsions.

PG&E, the San Francisco-based gas and electric utility, issued a number of safety suggestions, including inspection of flames on natural gas appliances. It noted that a blue flame indicates complete combustion, while a "lazy, yellow or white" flame signals that the appliance is not burning properly and could be generating carbon monoxide.

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