For Release: 02/28/2012

Minnesota Energy Resources Has Winter Safety Reminders For Customers

Rosemount, MN – With a significant winter event in central and northern Minnesota, Minnesota Energy Resources has several important reminders for customers.

Customers with high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters that vent through the wall (not into a chimney) should be wary of a buildup of snow or ice around the vent. High-efficiency equipment provides great savings, but a blocked vent could cause the heating system to malfunction by shutting off or, in extreme cases, leading to an accumulation of carbon monoxide in the home. Customers should check the outside vents just to make sure they aren’t covered with snow or ice. Heavy snow and high winds could provide conditions that will result in blocked vents.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, odorless, undetectable poisonous gas that cannot be detected by human senses. Dubbed the "silent killer," carbon monoxide claims more than 2,000 lives each year and sends more than 40,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. alone. At high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. CO results when there is an improper and/or inefficient burning of natural gas. Customers who experience flu-like symptoms only when at home should arrange for a carbon monoxide check from their local emergency agency immediately. Minnesota state law requires CO detectors for all single and multi-family dwellings.

The Red Cross has several recommendations in preparing for winter storms at its website, including a power outage checklist.

Minnesota Energy is also asking customers to be wary of the condition of gas and electric meters. Snow and ice buildup around gas meters, in particular, could lead to meter damage and a disruption in energy service. As the snow melts customers should check to see if icicles are forming above the meters. Large icicles could cause meter damage and potential service interruption if they break and fall into meters.

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