National Grid and the American Red Cross Team Up on Safety Tips Over the Winter Heating Season

By Virginia Limmiatis

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With the end of Daylight Saving Time, National Grid and the American Red Cross of Central New York advise it’s a good time to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms as well as have your furnace serviced for the heating season.

Seven times a day someone in the U.S. dies in a fire. The Red Cross is working to reduce that number through its Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent.

Across the country, one million smoke alarms have been installed and 285 lives have been saved due to the efforts of the volunteers and community partners who have participated in the organization’s Home Fire Campaign since its launch in October 2014. Here in Central New York, the Red Cross has installed 2,330 smoke alarms.


Photo (L-R)
Alberto Bianchetti, National Grid CNY Regional Executive
Ken Turner, interim-regional executive of the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York
John Spink, National Grid vice president, New York Control Center Operations
Tammy Atwood, American Red Cross Regional Chief Development Officer


“The safety of our customers, communities and employees is always National Grid’s top priority,” said John Spink, vice president of National Grid New York Control Center Operations. “National Grid is pleased to partner with the American Red Cross of Central New York to offer an important reminder to check your equipment and to take proper safety precautions for yourself and your family.”

National Grid is a long-time supporter of the Home Fire Campaign as well as other Red Cross programs and services. The ongoing partnership was observed today with the dedication of a new vehicle which will be used by the New York-Penn Region of Red Cross Blood Services to transport donated blood to Syracuse-area hospitals.

“National Grid has been a tremendous community partner, and we are proud of that relationship,” said Ken Turner, interim-regional executive of the American Red Cross of Western and Central New York. “Together, we are saving lives through disaster preparedness and response, as well as ensuring an adequate supply of blood products for area healthcare providers.”

The Syracuse Volunteer Driver Program is a group of approximately 75 individuals committed to the timely transportation of life-saving products. In 2017, these volunteers have made nearly 2,000 trips logging about 237,000 miles to deliver blood to hospitals as well as transporting just-donated blood to the Region’s headquarters in West Henrietta for processing.

The American Red Cross of Central New York provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Madison counties.

National Grid and the Red Cross provide the following tips to keep you and your family safe over the winter heating season:


CO Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly if left undetected. When fuels such as natural gas, butane, propane, wood, coal, heating oil, kerosene, and gasoline don’t burn completely, they can release carbon monoxide into the air. Common sources of carbon monoxide include malfunctioning forced-air furnaces, kerosene space heaters, natural gas ranges, wood stoves, water heaters, fireplaces and motor vehicle engines. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu. Depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control.

If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and call 911. Next, call National Grid’s gas emergency contact number 800-892-2345. Do not return to your home until the carbon monoxide source is found.  National Grid will respond immediately to all carbon-monoxide related calls for all natural gas customers within its service area – even if you purchase natural gas from an alternative gas supplier or marketer.


Identify and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved home carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.  Batteries should be replaced at least once a year.
  • Check chimneys or flues for debris, bird nests or other blockages, and have them cleaned periodically.
  • Be sure space heaters and wood stoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • It’s that time of year when ovens are used more frequently; take precaution to operate a gas oven safely.
  • Always operate ovens as they are intended. Do not use to heat a room.
  • Be sure children are monitored while the oven is in use.
  • Slots, holes or passages in the oven bottom, as well as oven racks, should Never be covered (such as with aluminum foil). Doing so blocks air flow and may cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Remember to use your senses: a strong, pungent odor or the presence of soot on any part of the oven surface indicates improper combustion and carbon monoxide generation.
  • Never burn coal or charcoal in an enclosed space.
  • If you use a back-up generator to supply power during an outage, be sure to operate it outdoors.  Know that open windows do not provide sufficient ventilation to safely operate a generator indoors.


Fire Safety

  • Confirm that you have working smoke detectors in every bedroom to ensure you “hear the beep where you sleep” in the event of a fire.
  • Batteries should be replaced in smoke alarms at least once a year, unless the alarms have sealed, 10-year batteries.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers at least once a month, ensure that: the extinguisher is not blocked by equipment, coats or other objects that could interfere with access in an emergency; the pressure is at the recommended level; the nozzle or other parts are not hindered in any way; the pin and tamper seal (if it has one) are intact; and there are no dents, leaks, rust, chemical deposits and/or other signs of abuse/wear.
  • If you don’t currently have a fire extinguisher, get one. Base your selection on the classification and the extinguisher’s compatibility with the items you wish to protect.


Gas Safety Inside or Outside Your Premise

  • If you smell gas, (the odor is similar to rotten eggs), we recommend everyone leave the home immediately and call 911 or National Grid at 800-892-2345 from a safe location. Don’t light a match or smoke, turn appliances on or off (including flashlights), use a telephone or start a car. Doing so can produce sparks that might cause the gas to ignite. Remember: Smell gas. Act fast.
  • Arrange for an annual check of your heating system by a licensed professional heating contractor. If you haven’t had your heating system inspected yet, call now.

Click here for National Grid’s Carbon Monoxide safety brochure. For more information on            carbon monoxide prevention visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division.


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