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First Responder Utility Safety Bulletin: Fall 2017

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. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), at least 430 people die, approximately 50,000 people visit the ER and about 40,000 are admitted to the hospital each year in the U.S. alone due to CO poisoning.

Fall and winter months mark the highest carbon monoxide-related incidents – peaking during natural disasters and power outages due to downed power lines. Other cooler-weather common causes are portable generators, gas ranges, faulty furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, other fuel-burning appliances, blocked chimneys and use of fireplaces and woodstoves.

Carbon monoxide poisoning victim

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

Case-in-point: Dozens suffer CO poisoning in Tribeca

June 2017, more than 30 people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when a boiler malfunctioned in a Tribeca property, a neighborhood located in lower Manhattan. Noxious gas began flooding the basement in the early morning, but it wasn’t until people began passing out on the ground floor that first responders were called.

Thirty-two people were treated on the scene before transported to local hospitals. First responders blocked off several surrounding streets as they investigated the source of the leak. They later determined a boiler pipe was the root cause. The pipe was capped, ultimately restoring air quality to appropriate levels.

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 rercognize, 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

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