When temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, it’s important to be aware of safety precautions to help keep you and your family safe.
- Clear vents of snow and ice. Ice and snow buildup could block vents for furnaces, water heaters and other appliances and may result in equipment malfunction and could create harmful carbon monoxide buildup.
- Remove icicles. Icicles on overhangs near the meter can fall and damage the meter and pipes, resulting in potential gas leaks. Be sure to carefully remove them, and any snowbanks, regularly. The buildup of ice and snow around or over natural gas meters, regulators and pipes can pose a serious.
- Carbon monoxide protection and prevention. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and virtually impossible to detect. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to muscle control.
- If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and call 911. Do not return to your home until the carbon monoxide source is found.
- To protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, here are some steps you can take:
- Install a UL-listed home carbon monoxide detector.
- Arrange for an annual check of your heating system by a licensed professional heating contractor.
- Check chimneys or flues for debris, bird nests or other blockages, and have them cleaned periodically.
- If your furnace vents in a way other than through a chimney, make sure that the vent is clear of leaves and other debris.
- Be sure space heaters and woodstoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with manufacturer’s instructions.
- NEVER use a gas range for heating, or burn coal or charcoal in an enclosed space.
- NEVER run a vehicle in the garage-even with the door open. CO can seep into your home.
- NEVER operate a generator indoors. If you use a back-up electricity generator, install it outside. Open windows do not provide sufficient ventilation to safety operate a generator indoors.
Stay warm, stay safe: Hypothermia
Hypothermia, or cold stress, happens when exposure causes the body temperature to fall below 95° F. It is important to remember that a person does not need to be exposed to cold weather to suffer from hypothermia. Older people, infants and those weakened by chronic illness are especially susceptible and may be vulnerable, even when indoors. If you know someone who might be susceptible, remember to call them regularly. If you think you may be susceptible, have a friend, neighbor or family member call you daily.
Symptoms of Hypothermia:
- A sudden change in appearance or behavior
- Skin that is cool to the touch
- Drowsiness and difficulty speaking
- Cold and stiff muscles
- Call a doctor, ambulance or rescue squad
- Handle the person very gently, wrapping him or her with quilts, blankets or towels
- Cover the person’s head or neck
Hypothermia should be treated only at a hospital. Efforts to rewarm a person at home can cause heart failure. Therefore:
- Do NOT give the person hot drinks or hot food.
- Do NOT place the person in a hot tub or shower.
- Do NOT give any alcohol or drugs.
- Do NOT massage the person’s arms and legs.
Smell gas. Act fast.
If you smell an odor of rotten eggs, leave your home or building immediately; take everyone with you, including pets.
- Do not use the phone, light a match or switch anything on or off.
- Once clear of the area, (call Rhode Island Energy’s gas emergency number for your area or 911 using your cell phone or neighbor’s home phone.
- Our emergency responders are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. We will send a service technician to investigate the odor immediately.
Keep in mind cold and frigid temperatures can affect the way gas travels making it seem like an odor is in one area when actually it is in another. No matter what, if you smell gas act fast! Whether inside or outdoors don’t wait - or think someone else will call.