Safety

What Happens When You Call 811? Celebrate Safe Digging Month in Michigan

Posted on April 15, 2015. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Environment, Forestry, How to, In Your Community Q&A, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Each year, hundreds of accidents are caused by careless digging. From planting a tree to building a deck, many projects can result in damage to utility lines, service interruptions, property damage, financial penalties and personal injuries. Prevent damage to yourself or your neighborhood by making the call to 811. It’s the law. 

Why Call 811 Before Digging?

April is Safe Digging Month, a time to reflect on safe digging practices for homes and businesses. Calling 811 will connect diggers to MISS DIG, the construction safety and utility damage prevention center for Michigan. MISS DIG prevents damage to Michigan neighborhoods in three steps:

  1. MISS DIG receives a request.
  2. Depending on the service request location, MISS DIG contacts local utility companies that provide natural gas, electricity, sewer, water, cable fiber optic and others who have lines buried underground.
  3. Within three business days, the local utilities will send representatives to mark the digging location with paint or colored flags.

Dig a hole– win prizes! Learn more.

5 Safe Digging Tips for Homeowners

Below are safety tips every homeowner should know before beginning a spring project:

  1. Call 811/MISS DIG three working days before you plan to dig.
  2. Make sure all utility lines are marked. Contact 811/MISS DIG to confirm.
  3. Respect the marks made by utility locators when using shovels or power equipment. Avoid using mechanized digging equipment near marks.
  4. Choose another location to begin your project if the original site is near utility lines.
  5. If you hired a contractor, confirm a call to 811/MISS DIG was made before they begin work on your property.

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Going on Vacation? Prepare For Your Trip With These Safety Tips in Mind

Posted on April 1, 2015. Filed under: Community, employee, Environment, month, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Nothing cures the winter blues like a vacation. Whether you’re traveling during spring break or preparing for a summer trip, making safety top priority will ensure a fun, memorable vacation for the entire family.

Six Safety Tips for a Carefree Vacation

No one wants to spend their vacation worrying. Follow these safety tips to ensure a relaxing trip:

  • Keep Your Plans Off Social Media- Don’t post your vacation plans on social media. Keeping plans private may prevent a thief from knowing you’re away.
  • Place a Hold on Your Mail- Letting mail pile up could be an easy way to inform criminals you aren’t home. Place a hold on your mail at holdmail.usps.com.
  • Make a Copy of Important Identification- Be sure to make copies of photo IDs and passports. Keep them in a safe place in case you need them. This is especially important if you plan to travel out of the country.
  • Check Your Health Insurance- Not all companies cover travel abroad. Check with your health insurance provider to see if your family is covered before leaving the country.
  • Bring Sunscreen- The closer you travel to the equator, the better the chance for a sunburn. Bring and apply sunscreen frequently to prevent burns, premature aging, a change in skin texture, and even skin cancer.
  • Be Alert Near Water- Know your surroundings when boating or swimming, follow all beach rules and watch for hazards. By being alert, you could prevent injury or death to yourself or others.

Click here for additional safe travel tips

Do you have a safe traveling tip to share? Comment below.

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Stuck in an Elevator During a Power Outage? Follow These 7 Tips to Get Out Safely

Posted on March 30, 2015. Filed under: Business, Community, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, How to, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

During power outages, anything can happen. Consumers Energy wants to make sure customers and employees are as safe as possible no matter the weather or circumstance. From life support needs to restoration updates, you can find safety tips and videos at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outagecenter.

7 Tips To Get Out of an Elevator Safely during a Power Outage

If there is a power outage while you’re in an elevator, don’t panic. Follow these seven instructions to get out as safely as possible:

  1. Follow Procedures Posted in Elevator: If you’re trapped in an elevator, always read the instructions posted inside.
  2. Press the “Open” Button: If you’re close to a specific floor or elevator landing, press the “open” button and exit with caution. The elevator may not be perfectly level with the floor or landing.
  3. Press the “Alarm” or “Help” Button: Within minutes, trained personnel should be able to respond.
  4. Use the Elevator’s Telephone: Some elevators include a telephone or two-way speaker system. You can attempt to make a call to emergency personnel.
  5. Attract Attention: Every couple minutes, yell for help or bang on the elevator door to give others a chance to hear you need help.
  6. Wait for Help: You should never try to escape through a partially opened door or a ceiling door. Wait calmly for trained emergency personnel to assist you.
  7. Take the Stairs: If you can, avoid using an elevator to get to the first floor during a storm or outage.

Safety is top priority at Consumers Energy. Click for safety tips including:

  • Natural gas leaks
  • Downed wires
  • Call Miss Dig at 811 to dig safely
  • In-the-field
  • Electric
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March is Red Cross Month; Get Life Support Help During Power Outages

Posted on March 10, 2015. Filed under: Community, Community Profiles, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , |

For more than 130 years, the American Red Cross has delivered help to many people going through challenges at home and abroad. It responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year and provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families around the world.

This month, we celebrate the American Red Cross for continuing to make a difference in the lives of Michigan residents.

American Red Cross Identification Program

During a power outage, Consumers Energy wants to make sure customers are safe and receive extra assistance if needed. The American Red Cross Identification Program provides aid to our electric customers who depend on electric powered life-support equipment, prescribed by a doctor. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Respirator
  • Apnea monitor
  • Kidney dialysis machine

The American Red Cross also provides materials to help you prepare a personal emergency plan to follow in the event of a power outage. The information explains how to arrange for backup equipment and identifies actions to take during a power outage or other emergency.

Download an Identification Form at ConsumersEnergy.com/lifesupport

Please Note:

  • Backup generators and transportation services are not part of this program
  • Participation in this program does not mean your electric power will be restored sooner than other customers if there is an outage
  • Consumers Energy also recommends you contact your equipment supplier for backup systems you can use during a power outage or other emergency

For more information on power outages, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/outage

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Payment Assistance Programs: Seek Help With Your Energy Bill

Posted on March 4, 2015. Filed under: bill, budget plan, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electricity, energy, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, payment, Payment Assistance, PeopleCare, reliability, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

This past February had record-low temperatures in Michigan and many of our furnaces had to work on overdrive to keep up with the bitter cold.

We are working to ensure our customers get the best value for every energy dollar, and that includes helping our customers when times are tough. We’re also working with four nonprofit agencies that provide direct aid to help our customers, ensuring Michigan families stay safe and warm this winter:

  • Michigan Community Action
  • The Salvation Army
  • TrueNorth Community Services
  • The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)

Consumers Energy also contributed an additional $5 million to expand our CARE program (Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy) to help customers afford and better manage their monthly energy costs.

Consumers Energy Payment Assistance

If you’re concerned you might have difficulty paying your energy bill, emergency and ongoing aid may be available.

1. Budget Plans and Protections

  • Budget Plan: When you’re on the Budget Plan, you can spread out your annual energy costs into equal payments. The exact amount will vary from customer to customer.
  • Third-party Notification: With your written authorization, we can send a copy of any shut-off notice you receive to a third party. This may include a consenting friend, relative or agency. Your third-party contact is not responsible for paying your bill, but may act as a liaison between you and Consumers Energy.
  • Medical Emergency Protection: If you or a member of your household have a qualifying, documented medical emergency or require home medical equipment or life support, you could be protected from service shut-off for nonpayment of your energy bill for up to 21 days. You must provide us with written proof from a doctor or a notice from a public health official that service shut-off will aggravate an existing medical condition.

2. Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE)

CARE provides a 40 percent credit on monthly bills for qualifying customers. The program also helps customers by forgiving any past due balance as a reward for consistent payment over the program year.. Apply today as space is filling quickly:

3. Winter Protection Plan (WPP)

The WPP may protect low-income customers and seniors age 65 and older from service shut-off and high payments from Nov. 1 through March 31. Customers are responsible for electric and natural gas used. Costs deferred through the winter months will be reconciled and billed in April. Eligible customers may sign up for the Winter Protection Plan beginning Nov. 1.

4. Shut-Off Protection Plan (SPP)

This plan provides year-round protection from shut-off and is available to customers with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines.

5. Shut-Off Protection: Active Duty in Military

If you or your spouse is the customer of record and is called to full-time active military service by the President of the United States or the Governor of Michigan during a time of declared national or state of emergency or war, you may apply for shut-off protection for up to 90 days and you may request an extension of this protection by reapplying. You:

  • Must provide verification of active duty status
  • Notify us of your status at end of active duty
  • Must pay for the energy used during participation in this program at end of active duty

Consumers Energy will set up a payment plan for all past-due amounts to be paid within one year.

6. Helping Neighbors Energy Efficiency Assistance

Our Helping Neighbors program helps you save money through energy efficiency improvements. At no cost, households at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level can receive an on-site assessment, educational materials and energy saving products or services such as a furnace operations and maintenance tune-up. To learn more, visit ConsumersHelpingNeighbors.com or call (877) 448-9433.

More Information on Consumers Energy Payment Assistance

 Agency, State of Michigan and Other External Assistance Programs

Consumers Energy is proud to support important agencies that provide direct aid to help our customers in the short term, while also promoting self-sufficiency to reach long-term goals.

  1. Call 2-1-1

Spearheaded by the United Way, 2-1-1 is a free phone service that links people with information or agencies that can help with energy assistance and other needs. Calls are confidential and answered 24/7. To get started, call 2-1-1 or visit mi211.org.

  1. The Salvation Army – PeopleCare

For more than 30 years, PeopleCare has been helping people and families with emergency needs like food, clothing, transportation, shelter, medicine and home heating. Consumers Energy customers and employees contribute to PeopleCare for the emergency services program, and the company provides bill credits to help with energy bill payments. The Salvation Army determines eligibility and distributes the aid. For more information, contact your local Salvation Army or visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/peoplecare.

  1. The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)

Customers who meet household income guidelines may be eligible for bill payment assistance through THAW funds, administered by local agency partners throughout Michigan. For more information, call (800) 866-THAW or visit Thawfund.org.

  1. Home Heating Credit (HHC)

You may apply for a Home Heating Credit for your 2014 primary heat source. To apply, you must meet the income guidelines and own or rent the home where you live (includes rented apartments and mobile homes). The deadline to file is Sept. 30, 2015. For more information, contact the Michigan Department of Treasury or visit Michigan.gov/treasury.

At Consumers Energy, safety is at the heart of everything we do, and that includes ensuring communities we serve stay safe and warm in the winter months. For more information on payment assistance programs, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/assistance.

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Guest Blog: The American Heart Association Gives Tips to Prevent America’s No. 1 Killer

Posted on February 23, 2015. Filed under: Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, employee, Guest Blogs, How to, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , |

Photo from Amy Hobley, Go Red For Women Corporate Events Director

Photo from Amy Hobley, Go Red For Women Corporate Events Director

American Heart Month serves as a platform for raising awareness of America’s number one killer — heart disease. Beginning on the 10th anniversary of National Wear Red Day (Feb. 1) the American Heart Association is celebrating 12 years of wearing red to fight heart disease.

Proclaimed since 1963, February is commemorated as American Heart Month in order to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. The observation also recognizes the critical importance of developing tools that will increase survival rates from heart attacks and cardiac arrest.

The American Heart Association launched its Go Red For Women movement in February 2003 to raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women. The grassroots campaign has since grown into a vibrant national movement as more women, men, celebrities, healthcare providers and politicians embrace and elevate the cause of women and heart disease.

The campaign provides women with tips and information on healthy eating, exercise, and risk factor reduction such as smoking cessation, weight maintenance, blood pressure control and blood cholesterol management.

What it means to Go Red:

  • Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise and eat healthy.
  • Realize Your Risk: We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one in three women.
  • Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
  • Don’t be silent: Tell every woman you know that heart disease is our number one killer. Raise your voice at GoRedForWomen.org.

Powered by the American Heart Association, GoRedForWomen.org and GoRedCorazon.org are the top online destinations where millions of women can learn how to make heart-healthy choices everyday.

Simple steps to obtain good heart health:

  1. Be aware.

Heart attack symptoms can include a multitude of things. The most common is chest pain and discomfort in the left arm. Women should be aware of silent heart attack symptoms, which include: shortness of breath, back pain, jaw pain and nausea. In the end, if you experience any symptoms mentioned, trust your gut and head to your local emergency room.

  1. Manage stress.

First, you must recognize how stress affects you. Without knowing, stress is your body’s RESPONSE to change. The body reacts by releasing a hormone (adrenaline) that can cause breathing and your heart rate to speed up along rising blood pressure. Constant and or continuous stress can be dangerous to your overall heart health.

  1. Stay active.

Staying healthy doesn’t consist of just eating healthy–you must get active. By helping the heart work more, you’re reducing blood pressure and decreasing blood to form clots. The African-American population also tends to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which puts us at greater risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. Those who can’t participate in high intensity activities should focus on a low intensity activity such as walking.

Along with working out, be sure to maintain a healthy weight. Keep track of what you eat to help you control your eating and weight. Download the American Heart Association’s food diary. It’s a good resource to help you keep track and reduce calories.

  1. Manage blood pressure

Another major risk for heart disease and stroke is high blood pressure. Having your blood pressure in a healthy range reduces strain on the arteries, heart and kidneys. More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic blacks have high blood pressure developing earlier in life and more severe in blacks than whites.

  1. Reduce blood sugar.

Having a healthy diet plays a major part in blood sugar. Your body uses energy from the majority of food we consume, which is turned into glucose or blood sugar. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.

  1. QUIT smoking.

One of the most effective steps to staying healthy and preventing a heart attack is not smoking. Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket. It lowers your tolerance for physical activity and decreases good cholesterol. Smoking also damages your blood vessels and makes your blood sticky, which is a recipe for blood clots. Tobacco and carbon monoxide rob your heart, brain and arteries of oxygen—it’s time to listen to your heart.

Consumers Energy Employees Go Red For Women:

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Whatever it takes for you to live a healthy life, do it. Life is why. For more information on heart healthy tips visit www.heart.org.

Guest blog compiled by Melissa Thrasher, communications director for the American Heart Association and Dr. Monique Butler, chief medical officer at Sinai-Grace Hospital, Detroit Medical Center.

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Six Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes During a Michigan Winter

Posted on February 3, 2015. Filed under: Community, Consumers, Education, electric, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, How to, reliability, Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

According to Michigan.gov, the Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness estimates a quarter-million homes are damaged each winter due to frozen water pipes. To put the damage into perspective, an eighth-inch crack in a pipe can do enough harm to leak up to 250 gallons of water a day.

Consumers Energy wants to protect your household by offering customers tips to prevent pipes from freezing. By using the proper precautions, you can protect your floors, furniture and personal property this winter.

Top Six Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

You can take preventative action against frozen pipes with these tips:

  1. Keep garage doors closed if your garage holds water pipelines
  2. Open cabinet doors throughout your home to circulate warmer air to plumbing
  3. Let cold water drip from faucet so water can trickle through exposed pipes
  4. Insulate heating ducts and water pipes in basements, crawl spaces and attics
  5. If you are away from home, set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees
  6. Hire a professional to relocate exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing

My Pipes Are Frozen, What’s Next?

If you turn on your faucet and only a trickle of water comes out—your pipes may be frozen. Call a licensed plumber immediately; you don’t want to take any chances. You should also:

  • Turn off the water at your home’s main shut-off valve
  • Keep the faucet open so water has a better chance of flowing through the frozen area
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch, open flame or electrical appliances
  • Never use electrical appliances in areas of standing water
  • Check for frozen pipes by opening other faucets throughout your home

CLICK FOR MORE HEATING SAFETY TIPS

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Consumers Energy Crews Travel East, Ready to Help as Blizzard Approaches

Posted on January 26, 2015. Filed under: Community, Community Profiles, Company Operations, Consumers, electric, Electricity, employee, energy, In Your Community Q&A, reliability, Safety, storm, weather | Tags: , , , , , , |

When a storm is coming, American energy providers stick together. We’re currently mobilizing equipment and more than 50 employees to assist New York and New England as severe winter storm, Juno, hits the East Coast.

Consumers Energy employees left Dundee, Mich. this morning to work east including:

  • Utility crews
  • Technicians
  • Mechanics
  • Supervisors

Another 100 contractors are being released from work on our electric system to help restore power. With fair weather in Michigan, this is a perfect opportunity to help out-of-state crews manage storm damage.

Blizzard conditions are forecasted for parts of New York and New England, beginning at noon today, with the potential for hurricane-force winds and up to two feet of snow. Depending on the storm damage, our crews could work on the East Coast for a week or more.

We know the importance of supporting other energy providers, as they have traveled to help our own restoration efforts during Michigan severe weather. Consumers Energy not only cares for the communities where we live and serve, but we also care for surrounding communities in times of need.

VIDEO: Consumers Energy Crews Leave Michigan to Help East Coast

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Technology Grants to be Awarded to Michigan Schools in Mid-January

Posted on January 7, 2015. Filed under: Community, Community Profiles, Company Operations, Corporate Giving, Education, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, energy, Grants, In Your Community Q&A, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Renewable Energy, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Consumers Energy will award technology grants to six classrooms around the state in mid January.

“We realize that schools have tight budgets,” said Tara Ragauss, Education Programs Manager. “We felt it was important to provide classrooms with up-to-date technology that will benefit the learning experience of students.”

Second through sixth grade teachers, in schools served by Consumers Energy, will automatically be entered in the drawing by signing up for the new EmPOWERed Kids program if their presentation took place before December 31, 2014.

The free interactive program is endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education and is designed to educate students about energy topics such as:

  • The dangerous consequences of touching electric power lines or acting carelessly with electrical appliances.
  • Learning the three Rs: recognize, react and report natural gas leaks.
  • The role of utility flags and why safe digging is important.

Download the emPOWERed Kids App

Since launching in September we’ve done 55 EmPOWERed Kids presentations reaching about 2,500 students. In total, we have reached more than 40,000 students this school year through our educational programs.

An additional six technology grant recipients will be selected at random on May 20, 2015. Teachers who have an EmPOWERed Kids presentation in their second through sixth grade classroom between January 2015 and May 15, 2015 will also be automatically entered into that drawing.

To sign up for the program, email us at education@cmsenergy.com or visit us at ConsumersEnergy.com/teachers.

ConsumersEnergy.com/teachers also has lessons plans, educational games and other resources for teachers.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Current Michigan teachers, who are legal residents of Michigan, who are Consumers Energy customers as of 9/1/14 and at least 18 years old are eligible. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends 5/15/15. For Official Rules, alternate method of energy, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, contact education@cmsenergy.com. Sponsor: Consumers Energy Company.

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Six Snow Safety Tips for Michigan Winter Weather

Posted on December 29, 2014. Filed under: Community, Consumers, Education, energy, Environment, How to, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

When kids are playing in the snow, it’s not always easy persuading them to come inside to warm up. From sledding to making snowmen, building snow forts and even snowboarding and skiing, who could blame them for wanting to play all day? During this fun time of year, Consumers Energy stresses the importance of teaching winter safety to families across Michigan.

Six Snow Safety Tips for Families in Michigan

According to Nationwide Children’s, head injuries and broken bones are two of the most common injuries from winter sports. Hypothermia and frostbite are also among the top safety concerns. Many injuries and accidents are preventable when precautions are taken. Consumers Energy offers six tips to keep your children safe in the snow:

  1. Apply Sunscreen

This may seem silly during the winter months, but your children can get sunburns from playing outside. The snow reflects 85 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, making the use of sunscreen an important step before your children head outside.

  1. Check on Children Often

Make sure frostbite doesn’t ruin the fun. Regularly check that your children’s mittens are dry and warm, and that their noses aren’t too red.

  1. Limit Snow Shoveling

If your children decide to make a fort or want to help clear the driveway, be mindful of who is shoveling. School-aged kids can easily lift heavy shovels of snow, but it may be too strenuous for younger ages and cause muscle strain.

  1. Layer Up

Children should wear multiple layers when playing outside. If the top layers get wet from the snow, your kids can easily peel it off to the dry layers. It also helps to avoid cotton clothing when dressing for outdoor play because it won’t be warm enough in the cold weather. Try to stick with wool or other fabrics.

  1. Have a Snack

You’ve heard the tip, “Never eat before swimming.” That doesn’t apply to winter play. Give your kids a snack before they head out in the snow. The calories will give their bodies energy in the cold weather.

  1. Supervise Sledding

Knowing about the hill your children want to sled at is essential. If it’s near a busy road, contains rocks, or is steep and covered with trees, it isn’t a safe spot. You can also prevent any accidents by supervising the sledding activity and encouraging your children to wear helmets.

Get ready for the next winter storm

Frostnip and Frostbite: Know the Warning Signs

Frostnip is the early stage of frostbite. Warning signs of frostnip include red, numb or tingly skin and occurs mostly on fingers, toes, ears, noses and cheeks. If your child is suspected of having frostnip:

  • Bring him/her inside
  • Remove all wet clothing
  • Immerse your child in warm (not hot) water until he/she gets a sense of feeling back

Warning signs of frostbite include cold, white/yellowish gray skin that often feels “wooden” and occurs mostly on fingers, toes, ears and noses. If your child is suspected of having frostbite, take him/her to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

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