COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
As colder months are quickly approaching, more people are turning on the heat to keep their homes warm.
Ameren says it is important to know how to maintain and operate any heating devices used in homes, and to be aware of signs that indicate a gas leak.
"If they're ever smelling the rotten egg odor thats put in natural gas, thats your first alert as the natural gas is not burning completely and that its leaking somewhere," said Ameren Damage Prevention and Public Awareness Specialist, Ramona Schatzer.
Gas leaks can also lead to increased carbon monoxide levels in your home.
Carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless and dangerous. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion and sometimes even death.
If you are experiencing a gas leak, leave the area as soon as possible.
"Make sure you are vacating immediately, taking family and pets with you. Don't take time to open windows to ventilate, just vacate immediately and don't touch anything on your way out," said Schatzer.
Other safety tips include making sure all vents leading outdoors are not blocked by debris or landscaping and checking your chimney for blockages like birds nests.
Natural gas is lighter than air, so it is best to face towards the wind if you are experiencing a leak and immediately call Ameren (800-552-7583) once you are a safe distance away.
"We respond 24 hours a day 7 days a week at no charge to anyone who reports it, and so we want to make sure that our community is safe whenever it comes to natural gas," said Schatzer.
Schatzer also says to pay attention to space heaters, electric blankets and other plug-in heat sources.
Schatzer says to not leave any plug-in, or gas heat sources running when you're leaving the home or going to bed.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked to make sure they are operating properly.