For Release: 10/17/2012

Minnesota Energy Resources Says Stay Warm, But Be Safe!

Rosemont/Rochester MN - With the home heating season upon us, Minnesota Energy Resources reminds customers there are proper steps to ensure a safe and economical way to stay warm inside as the temperature drops outside.

A careful inspection of the entire heating system by a qualified technician is a good way to start. Make sure heating equipment is burning fuel efficiently and is being vented properly. A change of furnace filters will help keep the air inside the home somewhat cleaner and allow your furnace to operate more efficiently.

Properly operating smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are also a must to warn residents when heating equipment is not working properly. Improper burning and venting of fuel can cause a build-up of CO in a home. CO is an odorless and tasteless gas that can be produced by any heat source that burns fuels such as natural gas, wood, propane or heating oil. CO can poison the blood of both your family members, as well as pets, it can be lethal.

Initial signs of CO poisoning are flu-like symptoms that include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and confusion. If this condition persists, evacuate the building and call 9-1-1.

Minnesota Energy Resources advises to keep a properly working smoke and CO alarm on every floor of the home, particularly near the areas where people and pets sleep.

Chimneys and vents can become plugged due to animal or bird nests and leaves over the summer and fall. That's why a thorough annual heating inspection is a good idea.

Some homeowners include portable or space heaters to complement heating their residence. Portable heaters come in many shapes and sizes and come with manufacturer's recommended instructions for safe operations. Portable space heaters can be dangerous if not properly used. Keep any type of combustibles away from the heating element of portable heaters.

If safety is compromised and there is imminent personal danger, call 9-1-1. To report a natural gas leak, contact the Minnesota Energy Resources Emergency line at 800-401-6451. Additional natural gas safety information is available at www.minnesotaenergyresources.com/home/gas_safety.aspx.

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