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Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to New England customers, urges homeowners and businesses to check and test their carbon monoxide detectors.

“Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death to occupants, so we are encouraging renters, homeowners and businesses to check monthly their carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they have one for each level of the home or business,” said Alec O’Meara, Unitil Media Relations Manager.

“It also important to check the manufacture date. They do not last forever.

The detecting components will lose their effectiveness after five to seven years, so the industry generally recommends replacing them after five years.”

Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, gas ranges, water heaters and all heating systems.

While smoke detector usage is very high, a National Fire Association report found that many homes in the country do not have carbon monoxide detectors. “It is important to be proactive as we enter the heating season,” O’Meara added. Over a third of poisoning occurs from December through February.

O’Meara also emphasized that many of the furnaces and water heating appliances are vented through the side of the home. “Homeowners need to be vigilant in keeping the vents clear during the winter months.”

“We also find that many homeowners and businesses don’t have natural gas furnaces, boilers or water heaters serviced regularly like oil-fired heating equipment,” said O’Meara. “Again, we encourage folks to get their appliances serviced annually. The technician will clean and ensure the system is safe and efficient.”

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