Black Hills Energy offers important winter safety message

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

Snow and ice buildup on your natural gas meter can create a safety hazard and even cut off the flow of natural gas to your heating equipment and other appliances. To avoid trouble, gently remove snow and ice from on and around the meter with your hands or a broom.

Gas meters and regulators are durable and designed with the weather in mind, but a coating of ice or snow could cause a loss of service and become a critical safety issue. If at all possible, remove the snow before it has a chance to freeze.

• Gently clear snow away by hand or with a broom. Do not use a shovel, ice pick or other sharp tools, damage could result and make the situation worse. Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.

• Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.

• Carefully clear snow away from the outdoor vent on high-efficiency furnaces. The furnace won’t run safely and efficiently if the vent is blocked.

• Safely remove ice buildup from overhead eaves that could fall and damage gas meters below.

• Point out the meter and any other above-ground utility structures to anyone you hire for snow removal.

“It is easy to overlook the gas meter when you are removing snow around your home,” said Michael Wright, operations supervisor for Webster City and the surrounding area. “Taking an extra few minutes to check the meter and outdoor vent are well worth your time.”

If you think you smell gas

To help you detect a leak, natural gas is injected with an odorant that gives it a distinctive odor. If you suspect a gas leak:

• Get everyone out and away from the building immediately. Call 911 or Black Hills Energy’s 24-hour emergency number (890-694-8989).

• As you exit, don’t touch any switches or electronics, and leave windows and doors as-is. That will help avoid creating a spark of static electricity capable of igniting any gas in the air.

• Account for everyone, and then don’t under any circumstances go back inside. Emergency responders and Black Hills Energy technicians will let you know when it’s safe to return.

Visit www.blackhillsenergy.com for more safety information, energy efficiency tips and billing and service options offered by Black Hills Energy. The company’s non-emergency number for questions about your bill and other services is 888-890-5554.