What is Natural Gas?

August 17, 2023

Natural gas is a fossil fuel made up mostly of methane, a type of gas. It forms deep beneath the Earth's surface over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals. We use it for things like heating homes, cooking food, and making electricity. When you burn natural gas, it gives off heat and makes things work, like stoves and heaters. It is important to handle and use natural gas safely because it can be harmful if it leaks into the air.

While natural gas is generally regarded as a safe energy source, it is important to remain vigilant regarding potential gas leaks or the improper installation of gas appliances.

What appliances use natural gas?

Common natural gas-powered appliances are furnaces, boilers, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, and dryers.

What is carbon monoxide?

A colorless and odorless gas that, when released from gas sources, can have potentially fatal consequences. To mitigate this risk, Fortis BC incorporates a distinctive sulphuric "rotten egg" odor into natural gas, enhancing your ability to swiftly detect any leaks and take preemptive measures before severe symptoms manifest.

The inclusion of this distinctive odor not only serves as an early warning mechanism but underscores the gravity of addressing gas leaks promptly. Recognizing the dangers associated with carbon monoxide exposure, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs reports that over 50 individuals succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning annually in Canada.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

It is important to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can vary depending on the level of exposure. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Headache: One of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is a persistent headache.
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy or lightheaded, similar to being intoxicated, can be a sign of exposure.
  • Nausea or Vomiting: Feeling sick to your stomach or actually vomiting can occur when exposed to carbon monoxide.
  • Confusion or Drowsiness: Carbon monoxide can affect your mental state, leading to confusion, difficulty concentrating, or feeling unusually tired.
  • Shortness of Breath: Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath can be an indication of exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Chest Pain: Chest discomfort or pain may occur, particularly if exposure is severe.
  • Flu-Like Symptoms: Carbon monoxide poisoning can sometimes mimic flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and weakness.
  • Blurred Vision: Vision problems, such as blurred or dimmed vision, might occur.
  • Unconsciousness or Loss of Consciousness: In severe cases, exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.

It's important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can be similar to other illnesses, which makes it challenging to recognize. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or experience these symptoms and suspect a gas leak, it is crucial to take immediate action:

  • Get to Fresh Air: If possible, move to an area with fresh air and open windows and doors to ventilate the space.
  • Turn Off Appliances: If you suspect a gas leak, turn off any gas-burning appliances and leave the building.
  • Seek Medical Help: If anyone is experiencing severe symptoms or loss of consciousness, call emergency services (911) and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and regularly test them to ensure they are functioning properly.

Prevention is key when it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your home has proper ventilation, maintain gas appliances regularly, and never use gas-powered equipment indoors. If you suspect a gas leak or experience symptoms, take them seriously and take prompt action to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

What can Absolute Plumbing Solutions do to help?

We are strong advocates for carbon monoxide detectors. A carbon monoxide detector plays an important role in ensuring the comfort and safety of your family. They can detect if your home's air ever reaches dangerous levels of CO and alert you immediately. All detectors should be checked by a professional to ensure they are functioning properly, and batteries should be replaced on a regular basis.

We offer combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are either battery operated or can be wired in to your electrical. To keep your family safe, it is recommended to install detectors inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.