Alliant Energy: Flu symptoms could signal carbon monoxide poisoning

Media Contact: Steve Schultz (608) 458-3285

Alliant Energy offers safety tips during heating season

MADISON, WI – January 6, 2010 – While the symptoms of headache, nausea and fatigue are usually associated with the flu, they’re also a warning sign of another serious health problem — carbon monoxide poisoning. Alliant Energy encourages customers to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and to take safety precautions this heating season.

“Since symptoms mimic those of the flu, victims of carbon monoxide poisoning often don’t realize the cause of their illness,” said Larry Jensema, a service specialist for Alliant Energy. “Headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or disorientation, fatigue, muscle weakness and difficulty waking are all early indicators of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Winter is the prime season for carbon monoxide problems because your home is sealed up tight and your furnace is running to keep your home warm. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, odorless gas that occurs when fuel-burning appliances aren’t working properly. When people breathe in carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and interferes with the absorption of oxygen by the blood cells.

If exposure continues over a long period, carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to brain damage or even death. If the symptoms are not accompanied by fever, if everyone in the family is ill, or if the symptoms disappear when you leave the house, it could be carbon monoxide poisoning.

“If you suspect carbon monoxide is in your home, get everyone out of the house and call a service professional to inspect your appliances right away. If you or anyone living in your home is seriously ill, call 911,” added Jensema.

Alliant Energy also recommends that customers protect against carbon monoxide poisoning by using gas appliances correctly, keeping them well maintained and having natural gas furnaces inspected every year. Additionally, customers should refrain from heating their home with a gas oven or range, and be careful when using an unvented space heater. Never use a charcoal grill indoors or a propane grill in an enclosed room.

“To keep your family safe this winter, it’s especially important to install quality carbon monoxide detectors in your home’s living and sleeping areas,” said Jensema. “Be sure to change the batteries in a carbon monoxide detector often, just as you do with smoke detectors. Whenever you change your clocks to Daylight Saving Time, change the batteries in both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors too.

To learn more, call Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT to request a free PowerHouse brochure on Natural Gas Safety, or visit the PowerHouse Web site at