NIPSCO reminds public to be aware of CO poisoning, gas leaks

Safety hazards and other emergencies can occur without warning.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) crews often team up with public safety service personnel to respond to emergencies such as fires, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2016, NIPSCO responded to more than 40,000 such emergencies. In an effort to help reduce these hazards, NIPSCO is reminding customers to be prepared for two common winter emergencies.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that comes from burning fuels such as coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas and fuel oil. It can be emitted by furnaces, generators, space heaters, stoves, fireplaces, water heaters and automobile exhaust. Carbon monoxide can be poisonous if allowed to build up in enclosed spaces.

CO poisoning causes flu-like symptoms, including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. At high levels, it can cause loss of consciousness and death. Anyone who believes they are suffering from CO poisoning should get fresh air immediately and call 911.

NIPSCO officials remind the public to take action to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

• A home’s furnace should be inspected by a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to make sure it’s operating safely and efficiently.

• Homeowners should install a battery-operated CO detector in their home near the bedrooms, making sure it’s clear of furniture or draperies. The battery should be tested regularly.

• Ovens, gas ranges or grills should not be used to heat a home.

• Consumers should never use a generator inside a home, basement, garage or other enclosed area.

• A car or lawn mower engine should not be left running in a shed, garage or any enclosed space.

Gas leaks

Natural gas is odorless, but natural gas providers like NIPSCO add a scent similar to rotten eggs so homeowners can detect if there’s a leak in the home.  

Homeowners should take these immediate actions if they smell natural gas:

• Do not light matches, turn electrical switches on or off, or use a telephone in the building.

• Get out of the house or building.

• From a safe place, call 911 and NIPSCO’s emergency number 800-634-3524 to report the leak. Remain outside until NIPSCO can send someone to check on the source of the odor.