For Release: 01/03/2014
Rosemount, MN - As weather reports indicate another round of below zero temperatures is expected, Minnesota Energy Resources encourages residents to put 'safety first' and offers the following information to ensure customers stay safe and warm this winter.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning can result from improper and/or inefficient burning of natural gas which can result from blocked furnace vents and/or insufficient ventilation. CO is an invisible, tasteless, odorless, poisonous gas that cannot be detected by human senses. Carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. Customers who experience flu-like symptoms should seek fresh air and immediately call 911. Minnesota law requires every home or apartment to have one or more CO detectors within their residence.
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 outside 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 to make sure they aren't covered with snow or ice. Snow and high winds can provide conditions that result in blocked vents.
Minnesota Energy Resources advises customers to carefully clear the area around their natural gas meters, regulators and piping by brushing away the deep snow to help ensure their proper and continuous operation. Deep snow and ice buildup around gas meters can lead to meter damage, equipment malfunction and/or a disruption in service.
After a period of snow accumulation and warmer daytime temperatures, which are followed by freezing nighttime temperatures, residents should be on the lookout for the formation of icicles on roofs. If broken off, larger icicles formed above natural gas meters and regulators could damage the meters, regulators and piping, causing them to malfunction or, in extreme cases, leak.
Never use an oven or stove flame as a means to heat your home. Natural gas ovens can produce carbon monoxide that will escape into the house when the oven door is left open. In addition, the oven could overheat and cause a fire.