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UGI urges communities to be “winter-wise” in practicing energy safety during anticipated cold weather

05 Jan 2015

With forecasted temperatures significantly below normal for most of the coming week, UGI encourages customers and the communities we serve to take precautions to stay safe and warm.  UGI recommends customers consider the following tips to help ensure the safe and reliable use of home heating equipment:

• Be aware that a harmless odor, which smells like rotten eggs, is added to natural gas to help detect a gas leak.  If you smell a natural gas odor, 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.   Your safety is always our top priority.

• Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of fuel-burning equipment.  It is colorless and odorless.  CO in large concentrations is poisonous.  Concentrations of CO inside a home or place of business can be caused by malfunctioning heating units or other fuel-burning appliances. 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.

• Make sure you have working smoke and CO detectors inside your home and check to make sure the batteries powering the detectors are fresh.

• Never use a generator, grill, stove or other fossil fuel burning device inside a home, garage of other enclosed area. Never heat a home with an oven if your electricity goes out.

• Use extra caution when using space heaters. Never place them on top of furniture, near water, or near anything that may catch fire, such as drapes, bedding, furniture, etc.

• In extreme cold weather, your heating unit may have difficulty maintaining the temperature set on your thermostat based on the system capacity and other factors. If your equipment is not functioning properly, you may need to contact your heating contractor.

• In the event of a winter storm, always clear snow and ice from the outside vents for your furnace or other natural gas appliances. This allows the air flow necessary for safe operation. Blocked vents can lead to a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide inside the home. 

• If the snow is deep, please clear the area around the gas meter, providing 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.

• Remember that an electric power outage will 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 the power returns, 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.

• UGI also recommends customers prepare for an emergency by creating an emergency outage kit, including the following items:

• Flashlights and fresh batteries (use battery powered flashlights and lanterns rather than candles to minimize the risk of fire)
• battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
•  land line phone with cord (Cordless phones require electricity to operate)
•  battery-powered or windup alarm clock; a supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day)
• non-perishable foods that require no heating
•  hand-operated can opener
•  blankets, bedding, or sleeping bags and a change of clothes
•  First Aid Kit and prescription medications
•  special items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs
•  pet supplies
•  extra set of car keys and house keys
• Emergency Services and UGI telephone numbers

UGI Utilities is headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania and serves 660,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland.  Customers interested in additional information visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.

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