Safety

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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VIDEO: 2014 In Review with Consumers Energy

Posted on December 22, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Corporate Giving, Economic Development, Economy, Education, electric, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, Energy Efficiency, Events, In Your Community Q&A, Natural Gas Safety, rebates, reliability, Renewable Energy, Safety, storm, sustainability, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

As we say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015, Consumers Energy is proud to share a number of accomplishments from the past year.

We worked hard to serve our customers and improve our communities. In 2014, Consumers Energy:

  • Created a severe weather assistance team that made more than 125,000 calls to help customers manage their bills during the Polar Vortex
  • Launched the Slow Down and Go Around campaign to ensure a safe work environment for our crews
  • Accelerated the plan to bring smart meters to homes and businesses two years early
  • Raised more than $300,000 to help customers with their heating bills by participating in Walks for Warmth
  • Gave $9 million in contributions to Michigan nonprofit organizations
  • Recycled 100,000 refrigerators
  • Increased in-state spending to $150 million to help grow Michigan’s economy
  • Built a 24-mile long pipeline to transport affordable and reliable natural gas to customers
  • Implemented a nationally recognized Incident Command System to improve emergency response
  • Opened new LEED Certified Service Centers to better assist customers
  • Completed and opened the Cross Winds Energy Park to meet the 10 percent renewable energy goal one year ahead of schedule

Thank you to all Consumers Energy employees, retirees and volunteers, and to our residential and business customers, for helping make 2014 such a successful year.

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7 Holiday Safety Tips from Consumers Energy

Posted on December 8, 2014. Filed under: Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, Electric Safety, employee, energy, How to, Natural Gas Safety, Safety, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Celebrating the holidays with family and friends is never a dull moment. From baking Grandma’s cookies to attending a handful of parties, December is a fast-paced month filled with heartwarming traditions. One tradition everyone should be practicing during this festive time of year is holiday safety.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season. For Consumers Energy, keeping Michigan as safe as possible is first priority. We’re committed to informing our residents, businesses and employees about the ways to prevent accidents and keep injuries from ruining joyous occasions.

Do you know the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? READ MORE

7 Holiday Safety Tips for Your Family

From our family to yours, check these holiday safety tips off your to-do list this season:

  1. Choose a fresh pine tree to decorate your home and be sure to water it frequently. Place the tree in a stand that will not tip over and keep the tree away from heat sources and exits.
  1. Keep burning candles away from decorations and other materials that can catch fire. Do not leave children unattended in a room with lighted candles.
  1. Never leave the stove unattended while cooking, and turn pot handles inward on the stove and out of children’s reach. Go green in the kitchen
  1. Have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
  1. Make sure the fireplace flue is open before starting a fire, and never burn wrappings or your pine tree in the fireplace.
  1. Always keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
  1. If you’re traveling this season and see working crews, slow down and go around to keep everyone safe from harm.

Nine steps to winter weatherize your home

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Drone Inspects Boiler, Equipment in Consumers Energy Michigan Power Plant

Posted on November 18, 2014. Filed under: bill, Business, Company Operations, Economy, Electric Generation, Electric Safety, Electricity, employee, energy, energy value, Rates, reliability, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The drone is a quadecopter (helicopter with four propellers).

The drone is a quadcopter (helicopter with four propellers).

Inspecting and maintaining equipment at our Essexville plant, Karn Weadock, was never an easy task. Gaining access for repairs was often too expensive or unsafe—until now. The power plant received its first drone in July to help perform inspections of boilers and other equipment.

Drone Q&A

Q. Why does Consumers Energy need a drone and who controls it?

A. The drone is a quadcopter (helicopter with four propellers) and is used by our Consumers Energy’s Boiler System Owners to:

Q. Where is the drone used?

A. The drone is currently used within the walls of Karn Weadock. Any use outside is against the law and forbidden. The quadcopter works in 4 simple steps:

  1. It travels by remote control and connects to the drone’s onboard computer.
  2. The onboard computer makes it easier to move the drone up/down, forward/backward, left/right and rotate left/right.
  3. It uses a Wi-Fi signal to send back first person video of our equipment from the onboard camera.
  4. The camera is connected to a smartphone or tablet to receive the first person video of our equipment. It also helps in movement control.

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Q. How does the drone save customers money?

A. Spotting tube leaks and repairing general material conditions allow Consumers Energy to provide power straight to customers, instead of buying it at high prices off the market.

Surprising Uses for Drones

Drones are used across the country for a variety of positive reasons. According to National Geographic, drones currently play large roles in:

  • Hurricane Hunting
  • 3-D Mapping landscapes
  • Protecting wildlife
  • Farming
  • Searching and saving missing or injured people
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A Tribute to Veterans Day By Consumers Energy; Veterans

Posted on November 11, 2014. Filed under: Community, Consumers, Corporate Giving, Education, employee, energy, Grants, History, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, sustainability | Tags: , , , , , , , |

This Veterans Day, Consumers Energy honors our veteran employees as well as the 24.9 million across the nation who have served in the armed forces. The holiday, celebrated every year on Nov. 11, is marked by parades across America and a national ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. This year marks the 96th anniversary of the holiday– 96 years after the end of World War I. Video below property of The History Channel.

A Tribute to Veterans, By Veterans

We have many veteran employees who are proud to work for a company that celebrates individuals of all experiences. Check out a few perspectives below:

“Veterans Day is the most important day of the year to me because of all the men and women who served their country to protect freedom and liberty for their family, friends, and all Americans. That is why this country we live in today is so great.”

-Henry Bastian

U.S. Navy QA Inspector, Fire Marshall, Officer of the Deck, Damage Control Officer and Hurricane Warden

Consumers Energy Combinations Job-13 in Material Logistics and Inventory Management in Bad Axe

“I would encourage employees to pause and take a minute to think of what they have. Think of what they can do or become. You have these rights because of a Veteran. I thank the ones that came before me and I will continue to support the ones serving after me.”

-Cres Hernandez

U.S. Army Ranger

Production Supervisor at the Karn plant

“Veterans Day is a very special day. Without the sacrifices made by the men and women of the services, our liberty and freedom would not be what it is today nor would the future of America be protected.”

-Clark Gallagher

U.S. Army Mobile Power Generation Operations and Maintenance Technician

Maintenance Lead at the Whiting plant

Consumers Energy Helps Train Veterans for New Careers

The Consumers Energy Foundation provided a $2,500 grant to NACE Detroit Section, to help U.S. military veterans become certified in cathodic protection, a field in demand in the pipeline industry.

The hands-on training showed the veterans how the classroom training they had been receiving at Fort Custer, helps improve the integrity of steel and keep pipelines safe. The average salary for corrosion professionals in Michigan is nearly $85,000. Read the full story.

 

 

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How Consumers Energy Gets Natural Gas to your Michigan Home, Business

Posted on November 7, 2014. Filed under: bill, Business, Community, Company Operations, Consumers, Education, Electricity, energy, energy value, Environment, How to, In Your Community Q&A, Natural Gas, Natural Gas Safety, reliability, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , |

Consumers Energy knows gas. As one of the largest natural gas distribution companies in the U.S., we operate more than 27,000 miles of pipeline and serve more than 1.7 million customers in Michigan. We’re consistently increasing the reliability of our natural gas pipelines to match gas pipeline quality standards, and protecting the safety of our neighbors who live or work near our pipelines and facilities.

Natural Gas: Get the Facts

Natural gas is a low-cost, versatile industry source that when burned, produces energy in the form of heat and light. Check out these natural gas facts you need to know:

We purchase natural gas in the summer when the prices are low, and used in the winter to protect customers from buying gas at peak prices.

We purchase natural gas in the summer when the prices are low, store it in underground fields and provide it to customers in the winter, which helps protect from buying gas at peak prices.

Q. What is Natural Gas?

  • Layers of buried plants and animals from thousands of years ago create a fossil fuel called natural gas, that contains energy stored from the sun in the form of carbon
  • When the fossil fuel is exposed to intense heat and pressure, its stored energy can be transferred into power

Q. How is Natural Gas Produced?

  • Natural gas is extracted from underground storage
  • It’s then treated at gas plants to remove any contaminates
  • Pipelines transport the natural gas to our power plants so it can be converted to electricity

Q. What are the three ways power plants can convert natural gas to electricity?

  1. After burning the gas in a boiler to produce steam, it’s then used by a steam turbine to generate electricity
  2. By burning natural gas in a combustion turbine, it can then generate electricity
  3. By combining the two methods above, natural gas can be generated into electricity. The process includes burning the natural gas in a combustion turbine, using the hot combustion turbine exhaust to create steam, which drives a steam turbine.

Get energy-savings and natural gas safety tips at ConsumersEnergy.com/gascenter.

Q. What if you smell natural gas or a “rotten egg” odor?

  • Leave the area immediately
  • Call us toll-free at (800) 477-5050 from a safe location
  • We’ll respond 24/7 at no charge
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