As families gather to celebrate the Holidays, UGI Utilities offers the following energy-related tips to help ensure residents enjoy a healthy, happy and safe Holiday Season:
- Protect your family from carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a colorless and odorless gas that can build up inside a home or place of business due to malfunctioning heating units or other fuel-burning appliances, as well as by blocked chimneys and exhaust vents. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Signs that an appliance may be producing CO include condensation on walls and windows, house pets becoming sluggish, plants dying and residents in the home suffering flu-like symptoms or feeling unusually tired. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately seek fresh air and prompt medical attention. UGI recommends that all homes have working CO detectors on every floor, especially near heating equipment and bedrooms. Check to make sure the batteries powering the detectors are fresh.
- Call UGI if you detect the odor of gas. Be aware that a harmless odor, which smells like rotten eggs, is added to natural gas to assist in the detection of a gas leak. If you smell the odor of natural gas, leave the building immediately, taking everyone with you. Do not use the phone, light a match, or switch anything on or off. Once in a location where the odor of gas is no longer present, call UGI from your cell phone or neighbor’s home. UGI’s emergency response number is 1-800-276-2722. UGI will send a service technician to investigate the odor immediately. Emergency response is available 24-hours a day, every day.
- Remove flammable items from ignition sources. Make sure Christmas trees, gifts, decorations and discarded bags, boxes and wrapping paper are kept away from fireplaces, radiators and other heating sources. Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
- Prevent Christmas tree fires. If you are using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered to avoid dry branches catching fire from the heat of the light bulbs. If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label.
- Properly use outdoor electric extension cords. If using outdoor lights around your home, make sure you use outdoor-rated extension cords and times. Keep extension cord plugs off the ground and away from puddles and snow.
- Practice good safety habits when using a natural gas oven and stove. If you use natural gas for cooking, be sure to keep loose clothing, dish towels and other flammable items away from the burners and hot stove surfaces. In addition, to allow for proper air flow and avoid accidental fires, keep your stove and the area around it clean and free from bags, wrappers, product caps, lids and boxes, etc. Finally, always keep a fire extinguisher on hand in or near your kitchen.
- Use extra caution when using space heaters. Always place a space heater on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable (such as paper, clothing, bedding or curtains) at least three feet away from the unit. Turn off space heaters before leaving the room.
- Clear snow and ice from the outside vents for your furnace or other natural gas appliances. Following a winter storm where snow and ice accumulates, always clear appliance exhausts and vents around your home. This allows the air flow necessary for safe operation. Blocked vents can lead to a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide inside the home.
- Clear deep snow from the area around gas and electric meters. Clearing snow from the area around natural gas and electric meters provides a path for UGI personnel who may require access. When removing snow or ice, please work carefully around your gas meter. Keep snow blowers and plows away from the gas meter to avoid damaging the equipment.
- Take care when electric outages occur. Remember that an electric power outage can affect natural gas equipment as well. Blowers and electronic ignitions on newer versions of appliances need electric service to operate. If your gas heater does not relight when electric service is restored, turn the unit off for a moment, then back on. If it still does not light, call a qualified heating professional for service.
Significant ice accumulation or high winds can also cause downed electric wires and power outages. UGI Electric customers who experience an outage should contact UGI at 800-276-2722. UGI urges customers to be prepared for unexpected power outages by taking the following steps:
- If you depend on medical equipment for life-support, we recommend that you purchase a back-up power supply or make arrangements to stay with family or friends in the case of an outage.
- If you are a residential customer with special needs and have an emergency, please contact your regional 911 center. Special needs customers calling UGI to report an outage should identify themselves to the customer service representative. UGI can provide information to assist you in connecting to your local 911 center.
- If you use a generator during an outage, please make sure it is used safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions on proper venting and operation.
Additional safety tips are available on UGI’s website at www.ugi.com/safety.
UGI Utilities is a natural gas and electric utility with headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania. UGI serves 670,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland. Customers and community members are invited to visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.