Carbon Monoxide Danger Buried by Blizzard

Officials urge clearing natural gas vents to avoid a potential tragedy

DALLAS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- When you think of carbon monoxide risks, a faulty furnace or a blocked chimney may come to mind. But another danger may be lurking buried in the snow.

A firefighter on Wednesday afternoon dug out a carbon monoxide threat buried by the blizzard. It's a risk you may not even realize: a natural gas vent covered by the deep snow. At barely a foot off the ground, vents like this are no match for such a sizable snowfall.

"I never thought of a vent at all and carbon monoxide as we all know is extremely dangerous," said Cathy Golightley. She briefly evacuated her Yalick Farms Condo in Dallas Township Tuesday night after firefighters and the development's management began checking on homes following the heavy snow. "They came in, they did an inspection went downstairs and found 15 percent of carbon monoxide in the basement."

That doesn't sound like much but doctors say the colorless, odorless gas can make you sick. Even at such a low level it can make you deathly ill. "It can build-up over time and slowly depending upon where you're located, what kind of ventilation you have which is why it is so important that your vents inside your house are cleared out."

On Tuesday night, Back Mountain Regional & EMS crews helped clear the natural gas vents of more than two dozen homes.  Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS Chief Harry Vivian said, "People have to realize that furnaces have to combust properly and with the vents that go outside you've got to keep them clean." 

It's not just the vents you have to be mindful of cleaning. It's also recommended you get that snow removed from your meter. UGI Utility Spokesperson Don Brominski says open air around your gas meter and regulator next to it are essential. "To ensure that your equipment is getting the proper amounts of natural gas for combustion you have to keep your gas meter and regulator clear of snow as well." It's a valuable if not life saving lesson.

UGI also urges homeowners to keep a clear path to their meter so that professionals can have access in the event of an emergency.


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