Natural Gas Safety
As we all look forward to warmer weather and getting outdoors, we remind you to dig safely and watch out for overhead wires. Look up and look out for wires, and always call 811 before starting any digging project to mark underground pipes and wires.
Now that we are thinking safety first, here’s a quick look back in our winter wrap-up.
- One of the coldest winters in a generation caused Michigan homeowners to use 20 percent more natural gas this winter compared to a year ago.
– However, the typical Consumers Energy residential customer paid just 10 percent more for natural gas
– Consumers Energy prices were down 8 percent from last winter
- We created the Severe Weather Assistance Team to help Michigan residents concerned about bills
– The team made 120,000 calls to customers in less than six weeks
– Made payment arrangements with customers, enrolled them in our Budget Plan and provided energy savings tips VIDEO: Ways to Save
“I was blown away at the response from customers!” said Randi Richards, one of our severe weather team members. “People were setting up payment arrangements, and they were telling me what was going on in their lives, how hard this winter has been, and what worked for their budget. They shared how touched they were that we were reaching out to them.”
- The majority of meters are being read. VIDEO: Meter Reading
– However, the extreme weather has created challenges in physically reaching every one of our 1.8 million natural gas meters
– We have increased the number of meter readers we have on the job. They are working extended hours, including weekends
Resources for Michigan Residents
- Concerned about your bill? Call (800) 477-5050
- Call 2-1-1 and ask about assistance programs
- Learn more about how to save at ConsumersEnergy.com/energyanswers
- Enroll in Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which levels out payments
Our Work Continues
- We are preparing for next winter. We will replenish our Michigan underground natural gas storage system, the nation’s fourth-largest
- Warm weather brings outdoor work – tree trimming and strengthening our gas and electric systems. We’ll be spending $60 million this year, for example, just to upgrade underground gas mains
Working to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need it. That’s our Promise to Michigan.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Consumers Energy gets about 30 reports every year of damaged meters caused by falling ice. Recently, building fires in Walker and near Lansing were sparked when ice fell and broke off a gas meter. Additionally, ice can fall on people, cars and air conditioning units.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent falling ice:
- Knock down icicles when they’re still small, if it is safe to do so, to keep them from getting big enough cause damage when they fall
- If ice gets to damaging size above meters, consider leaning a sheet of 3/4″ plywood against the wall and over the meters to deflect falling ice away from the meters. Act fast, to limit time spent in that potentially dangerous location under the ice
- Do not park or walk under icicles which may fall unexpectedly
- Keep down spouts unplugged before winter begins to help prevent the problem of ice forming over meters
- Ice dams on roofs/gutters also can be caused by improper insulation and ventilation. For professional advice, select a contractor who participates in the Consumers Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebate program
- Take free and low-cost steps to reduce heating costs. Homeowners should have their furnace inspected each year to make sure it’s running efficiently and to replace the furnace filter often. Customers can also see savings of up to 20 percent when using a programmable thermostat. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/save.
- Sign up for Consumers Energy’s Budget Plan, which spreads out annual energy costs into equal monthly payments. For more information, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/budgetplan.
- Assistance is available to help people pay bills. The CARE program is available based on income, from $17,235 for an individual up to $59,445 for a household of eight. People can enroll in CARE through February by contacting one of three partner agencies: The Heat and Warmth Fund (877) 646-2818, The Salvation Army at sawmni.org/cecare or TrueNorth Community Services (800) 379-0221. CARE territory map
- Winter storms and cold weather have led to an increase in estimated meter reads. Estimates are based on past energy usage and recent weather data. If you receive a statement based on an estimated reading, your actual usage will be reconciled with the next actual meter reading. If you have questions, call 1-800-477-5050.
- In the event of a service interruption, never use a cooking stove, oven or gas-fired space heater to heat a home because they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or vented properly. The best defense against CO poisoning is to install an alarm.
- Keep supplemental heaters away from curtains, bedspreads or anything flammable. Unplug heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep natural gas appliance and high efficiency furnace air intake valves and exhaust pipes free of snow and ice by carefully removing it by hand.
- Keep meters free of ice, snow and icicle buildup to prevent service interruptions. Mobile home customers are advised to safely clear snow away from rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake so that furnaces can continue to operate properly.
Following last weekend’s heavy snowfall across Michigan, we’re encouraging customers to keep safety in mind and make sure your gas furnace fresh air intake pipes and gas/electric meters are free of snow and ice.
With the large amount of snow that fell over the past two days, we have received numerous no-heat calls from customers, particularly those who live in mobile homes where chimneys are located on top of flat roofs. Snow has piled up around and blocked many of these chimneys, which causes furnace pilot lights to go out. Keep safe and warm with these tips:
- Mobile Home customers: Safely clear snow away from mobile home rooftop chimneys, preferably by using a snow rake. The furnace can then be recycled and should operate properly.
- High Efficiency Furnace customers: Make sure the fresh air intake pipes (typically two white plastic that comes out of the side of the home – see related photo) are free from drifting snow to prevent obstructions and improper operation.
- Keep gas and electric meters clear of snow and ice. When snow and ice is allowed to build up it can become compacted and freeze, causing damage that interferes with proper operation of meters and related appliances. Snow should only be removed by hand, never with a shovel or power snow removal equipment.
Carbon Monoxide Safety: Safe removal of snow and ice around chimneys, intake valves and meters can help prevent possible carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be produced when appliances aren’t operating or venting properly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/cosafetyRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
The holiday season is upon us! It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends. It’s also a good time to review some safety tips to help keep your family safe.
This time of year builds excitement in a lot of people, especially children. With all of the bright colored, shiny decorations around, some children may find it difficult to keep their hands to themselves. Try to keep fragile ornaments up where they can’t be reached. Always remember to check lights and cords to ensure they have no fraying or damage. Remember to never put cords under furniture or rugs.
Winter break marks a time for kids to sit at home and play video games, watch TV and frolic in the snow all day. Be sure to review your household rules and safety tips with your children including first aid, fire safety, the importance of bundling up before going out in the cold, and what to do during a storm.
Lastly, with temperatures taking a dip, people are inclined to turn to portable heaters and fireplaces to help stay warm. Remember to keep heaters away from furniture, curtains and clothing.
If your home has a gas fireplace, be sure to talk with children about the 3 Rs of natural gas safety: recognize the smell of “rotten eggs”, react by leaving the home and going to a safe place, and report by calling Consumers Energy at (800) 477-5050 or 911.
For more tips, games and activities designed to keep children safe, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/kids.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season from Consumers Energy!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Consumers Energy Offers Life-saving Tips During Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week Oct. 20-26
As leaves fall and colder weather signals the start-up of furnaces across Michigan, Consumers Energy urges residents to protect themselves against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Often called “the silent killer,” the toxic gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and can be produced when home appliances aren’t operating or venting properly.
Gov. Rick Snyder has declared Oct. 20 through Oct. 26 “Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week” in Michigan. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. The Michigan Department of Community Health reported that in 2011 (latest available data) there were 934 unintentional CO poisonings in Michigan, 22 of which resulted in death.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by the incomplete combustion of fuels including oil, propane, natural gas, coal, wood, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and charcoal. Deadly amounts of carbon monoxide can be produced by defective or poorly vented appliances that use these fuels such as furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves, as well as water heaters, generators and vehicles. Facts about carbon monoxide.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu, and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and ultimately death.
The best defense against carbon monoxide problems is to install an audible carbon monoxide detector that will sound if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present in a home or building. Tips to prevent carbon monoxide in your home/apartment.
Another way to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning is to make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly installed and maintained. Furnaces should be cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
If you suspect there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, you should evacuate all people and pets, move to fresh air, and call 911.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
In honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” Sept. 19, we encourage you to watch the Call 811 Pirate Video. Join Jenny and Michael as they use a special spy glass and pirate guide to learn how to spot underground utilities and dig safely.
Perhaps folks are not looking for buried treasure, but homeowners and others may be digging to plant trees or install a mailbox, fence or deck.
Viewers learn how flags and paint help mark underground lines for water, electricity, natural gas, cable TV and more. Red identifies electricity, and yellow marks natural gas. WATCH VIDEO
“Talk Like a Pirate Day” is officially celebrated in Michigan. State legislators approved a resolution earlier this year from Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Twp.
Whether you are in the city ARRR the country, some things need to stay buried. Always Call 811 before you dig and know what’s underground.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
Significant rain in the past week, coupled with several inches of additional rain expected Wednesday night into early Friday, has prompted flood watches and warnings across the state. Downed power lines in standing water conduct electricity, making for an extremely dangerous situation. Assume all downed wires are “live” and stay at least 25 feet away from them and any wet areas they may be contacting. Call Consumers Energy immediately at 1-800-477-5050 or your local law enforcement agency to report downed power lines.
“Downed wires may look harmless, but they’re not,” said Kate Burgers, the utility’s director of public safety. “Never touch anything a downed power line is touching, including water. Stay away and stay alive.”
Consumers Energy advises the public that if a flooded area is evacuated by local emergency management personnel, electricity and natural gas service will likely be shut off for safety reasons. After flooding recedes, check for the odor of gas before entering any areas. If gas is detected leave the area immediately and call 1-800-477-5050.Burgers, the utility’s director of public safety. “Never touch anything a downed power line is touching, including water. Stay away and stay alive.”
Consumers Energy is closely monitoring the weather situation and is in regular contact with local emergency management coordinators, especially in areas already experiencing flooding or where flooding is expected.
The American Red Cross is also encouraging residents living near flood-prone areas to stay alert, practice an evacuation plan, assemble an emergency preparedness kit and heed all official flood warnings. More information is available at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
In addition to the threat of flooding, the public is reminded what to do before, during and after a storm to stay safe.
“It’s important that we take time to plan for dealing with severe weather during all four seasons,” Burgers said. “Being prepared can minimize the impact of a storm and help you and your families stay safe.”
Before and after a storm hits, Consumers Energy encourages citizens and customers to consider the following tips:
- Keep enough supplies for 72 hours – food, water, medication, etc. Remember to have food that doesn’t require refrigeration or heating and copies of prescriptions as well as a first aid kit. Don’t forget food / water for pets as well.
- Keep flashlights, a portable radio and extra batteries handy. For safety, battery operated lights should be used instead of candles which can cause a fire.
- Install battery-operated carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke alarms.
- Don’t use generators in enclosed areas (garages, breezeways) or near other air intakes for risk of CO poisoning.
- When using a generator, make sure it is properly installed by a licensed electrician, for the safety of line workers and other emergency responders who may come near power lines.
- Charge your electronics prior to the storm and switch to a battery saving mode if power is lost. Limit non-essential calls so your devices are available for emergency information or contacting 911.
During a Storm
- Stay at least 25 feet away from all downed wires and always assume they are “live.” Call Consumers Energy immediately at 1-800-477-5050 or your local law enforcement agency to report downed power lines.
- Stay away from storm debris that might be entangled with power lines.
- Don’t touch anything a power line may be touching including trees, fences and puddles.
- Never go into an area with electrical-powered equipment where there is standing water.
- Visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com on your mobile device, which immediately displays helpful outage and storm related information, including the online outage map.
After a Storm
- Check on neighbors or family members who may have been affected by the storm.
- When safe to leave your home, check on neighbors or family members who may have been affected by the storm; especially those with specific concerns such as the elderly and individuals with infants, limited mobility or other special needs.
- Monitor your local radio station or Consumers Energy’s online outage map, www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap on your mobile device or desktop computer to get the most current power restoration information. The site allows customers to report an outage, get estimated restoration times for outages and view outages on a detailed map. Customers can also report power outages by calling Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050.
As spring weather returns to Michigan, so does the risk of severe weather.
To help protect people and property, April 7-13 has been declared Michigan Severe Weather Awareness Week. Tips and resources to prepare for thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes that can accompany rising temperatures include the following:
Before a storm strikes:
-Plan ahead. Know where to go and what to do in a weather emergency.
-Have a portable radio, flashlights and fresh batteries handy.
-Know the location of the circuit box for your home’s electricity and how to turn the power on and off.
During a thunderstorm:
-Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency.
-Unplug or turn off power to all unnecessary appliances, such your coffeemaker, toaster, TV, DVD player, microwave and computer.
-Stay away from open windows, doors, patio or open porch.
-Don’t shower or bathe. Lightning can travel through plumbing pipes and water.
-Have alternate routes planned in case of flooding.
During a tornado:
-In homes and small buildings, go to the basement and get under something sturdy, like a workbench or stairwell. If a basement is not available, go to an interior (windowless) room, closet or bathroom on the lowest level. In public places, move to the designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floors are generally best.
-Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
-If you are caught outdoors, seek a sturdy shelter.
If your home loses power:
-If possible, check to see if the problem is a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker.
-Report an outage and get predicted restoration times using your smartphone at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagemap or by calling (800) 477-5050.
-Watch for fallen wires, broken utility poles or tree limbs on a power line. Stay clear of power lines and anything a power line is touching, including puddles of water, and call us at right away at (800) 477-5050.
After a flood:
-After a flood or other disaster, check for the odor of natural gas (rotten eggs) before entering any area. If gas is detected, leave the area immediately and call (800) 477-5050. Replace any appliance submerged in water
Following the tragic explosion in Royal Oak on Feb. 27, Consumers Energy has been conducting a thorough investigation, including employee interviews, system inspection and policy review. Based on our findings through March 15, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action, including terminations for failure to follow established policies and procedures.
We take our responsibility to protect our communities, customers and employees very seriously and are committed to a zero tolerance policy when it comes to their safety. With this commitment in mind, we continue to be vigilant and proactive in taking steps to reassure the public:
- We have completed our detailed review and validation of standard operating procedures with employees and contractors working on our system. Boring operations will fully resume the week of March 18
- Our experts continue to be available to meet with residents and businesses in a wider area around the site, identifying any concerns and offering additional safety testing.
Throughout the year, Consumers Energy also conducts a number of ongoing, preventative safety measures:
- Proactive approach to detect gas leaks along our pipeline systems throughout our service areas.
- Encourage citizens who smell “rotten egg” odorant to contact us from a safe location immediately at (800) 477-5050 to report the odor, as this is the number one defense against gas leaks.
- Use specially-equipped trucks to detect natural gas particles in the area. These routes are driven on established routines and regular timetables.
- Conduct walking surveys using hand-held gas detection equipment.
- Pilots regularly fly over our gas pipeline transmission system to perform visual inspections for safety and reliability.
We also have a comprehensive Integrity Management Plan in place to maintain and evaluate our pipelines, as part of the federal Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. We review the structural integrity of our pipelines using methods that include:
- Running an electronic device inside the pipeline to transmit images and gathering data about the condition of the pipe;
- Pressure testing pipelines using water and above-ground test instruments; and
- Excavating pipes and making repairs if potential problems are indicated during these processes.
The safety of our communities, customers and employees remains Consumers Energy’s top priority, and our thoughts continue to be with the deceased victim’s family and friends.
We are fully cooperating with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities, and will provide more details on our findings following the conclusion of the investigation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )
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