JACKSON, Mich., Jan. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Mother Nature's recent delivery of freezing rain, snow and ice to Michigan has Consumers Energy asking people to keep safety in mind by making sure their gas and electric meters and gas furnace fresh air intake pipes are free of snow and ice.
"Since we began meeting the energy needs of Michigan residents nearly 130 years ago, Consumers Energy has always made customer safety our top priority," said Charles Crews, vice president of gas operations. "A simple yet important step is to keep meters, fresh air vents and furnace exhaust pipes clear, particularly following weather that brings a buildup of snow and/or ice."
Crews offered these safety tips:
- Remove snow and ice from around gas and electric meters. If snow and ice is allowed to build up, it can become compacted and freeze around the meter, causing damage that can interfere with its proper operation, and can also affect appliances served by that meter.
- Snow should be removed only by hand, never with a shovel, metal/wood tools or power snow removal equipment.
- Mobile home customers should safely clear away snow from rooftop chimneys, fresh air intakes and furnace exhaust pipes. The furnace can then be re-cycled and should operate properly.
- Customers with high-efficiency furnaces should make sure the intake pipes (typically two white plastic pipes coming out of the side of the home) are free from drifting snow to prevent possible obstructions that could interfere with safe operation.
Crews added that safe removal of snow and ice around meters, intake valves and chimneys can also help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is called the "silent killer" because it is a colorless, odorless and tasteless toxic gas that can be produced when appliances are not operating or venting properly.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. If any of these symptoms are experienced, leave the area immediately and call 911 or your local fire department for immediate help.
"The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install an audible alarm that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide ever build up in your home. During the winter months when doors and windows are closed and furnaces are operating more carbon monoxide problems tend to occur," Crews said.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy