Xcel Energy reminds those moving snow to avoid gas meters
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - With the frequent winter storms, accumulation of snow and ice on or around natural gas meters and appliance vents is possible. Xcel Energy wants to remind customers to keep natural gas meters free of snow and ice to prevent the potential for a dangerous gas pressure buildup in homes and other buildings.
The natural gas meter's regulator vent is especially vulnerable to plugging, which can adversely affect the operation of the gas pressure regulator, resulting in a potentially hazardous condition by preventing the flow of natural gas.
Xcel Energy also recommends that appliance vents be kept clear in order to operate properly. When the outdoor air intake vent to a fuelburning appliance is buried in snow the appliance is unable to receive the fresh air it needs to operate properly, which could lead to carbon monoxide filling the building. It is also very important to make sure carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
Xcel Energy recommends the following steps to safely remove snow and ice from meters, regulators and vents:
•Carefully shovel around the meter and gently remove snow and ice from the gas meter and any associated piping, as well as from appliance vents by hand.
•Avoid using any sharp tool, including a shovel, or snowblower on or near the meter, piping and vents.
•Keep a threefoot area around meters, regulators and vents and check them regularly to make sure winds haven't caused drifting.
•Maintain a clear path to and from the meter to allow easy access in the event of an emergency.
Xcel Energy reminds customers that if they smell natural gas in their homes to leave the house immediately and to follow these other important safety precautions:
•Don't turn lights on or off or use any other electrical switches, including garage door openers, under any circumstances.
•Don't open any windows or doors other than the ones you pass through on your way out.
•Don't use a cell phone or any other phone while still in the house; go to a neighbor's house or other safe place away from your home to call Xcel Energy's gas emergency number 1-8008952999 for help or 911 in an emergency.
•Don't return to the home until a safety expert such as a utility company employee or firefighter says it's safe to do so.
•Before removing snow from rooftops or trees, always first look up to find any overhead power line and then keep yourself and any tool you're using a minimum of 10feet away. Assume all power lines are energized and therefore dangerous.