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First Responder Utility Safety Bulletin: Fall 2016

Carbon monoxide poisoning: The “silent killer.” Are you prepared to respond?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the “silent killer” because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and deadly.

Carbon monoxide-related fatalities in the U.S. are at their highest from November through February—peaking during the month of January. In fact, cold weather months experience greater occurrences due to blocked chimneys, use of fireplaces and woodstoves, faulty furnaces, ventless space heaters, water heaters and other fuel-burning appliances.

Firefighter and paramedic helping man in ambulance

Each year, more than 400 fatalities are attributed to CO poisoning. An additional 20,000 Americans visit emergency rooms and about 4,000 require hospitalization due to CO poisoning each year.

But you can protect yourself, your fellow first responders and people in your community by knowing how to prevent CO poisoning.

Case-in-point: Undetected carbon monoxide leak sickens first responders

Three firefighters and three paramedics responding to a medical call at an apartment complex arrived to find a man unconscious in a bathroom. As these first responders were tending to the victim they experienced dizziness and nausea. They proceeded to evacuate the building. Subsequently, the firefighters, paramedics, two residents and the original victim were taken to the hospital and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. A later investigation revealed a carbon monoxide leak from damaged heating equipment.

Train to respond safely to carbon monoxide incidents

The National Grid First Responder Utility Safety Training Program is an e-learning program that provides emergency response personnel with a solid understanding of utility hazards. For example, Module 3 of National Grid’s online Natural Gas Safety Training Certification Program, entitled Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, addresses CO characteristics, toxicity levels, poisoning symptoms, sources, detection and more. Through this training you will learn the knowledge, skills and technical ability required to recognize, respond and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas module 3
  Sample screen from e-learning module 3: carbon monoxide poisoning  

Call Before You Dig

Remind your colleagues, friends and the public to call your underground utility locator service toll-free at 811 well in advance of digging or moving the earth in any way.

They will arrange to mark underground natural gas pipelines, underground electric power lines and other buried utilities so that everyone can work safely.

Keep yourself, your team and the public safe. Register today and complete your utility safety training. Visit

Know what's below. Call 811 before you dig.  

Smell Gas. Act Fast.


Massachusetts contacts

Gas emergencies:
1-800-233-5325 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-465-1212 or 911


New York contacts

Gas emergencies:
Long Island and the Rockaways:
1-800-490-0045 or 911

Metro NY:
911 or 1-718-643-4050

Upstate NY:
1-800-892-2345 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-867-5222 or 911


Rhode Island contacts

Gas emergencies:
1-800-640-1595 or 911

Electric emergencies:
1-800-465-1212 or 911

National Grid


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