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With winter kicking into full gear, Black Hill Energy released some safety tips concerning gas meters.

Snow and ice buildup on a natural gas meter can create a safety hazard and even cut off the flow of natural gas to heating equipment and other appliances. To avoid trouble, gently remove snow and ice from on and around the meter by hand or with a broom.

Gas meters and regulators are durable and designed with the weather in mind, but a coating of ice or snow could cause a loss of service and become a critical safety issue. If at all possible, remove the snow before it has a chance to freeze.

• Gently clear snow away by hand or with a broom. Do not use a shovel, ice pick or other sharp tools, damage could result and make the situation worse. Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.

• Keep snow blowers and shovels away from gas meters and other above-ground equipment.

• Carefully clear snow away from the outdoor vent on high-efficiency furnaces. The furnace won’t run safely and efficiently if the vent is blocked.

• Safely remove ice buildup from overhead eaves that could fall and damage gas meters below.

• Point out the meter and any other above-ground utility structures to anyone you hire for snow removal.

“It is easy to overlook the gas meter when you are removing snow around your home,” Gordon Dickerson, operations supervisor for Council Bluffs and the surrounding area, said in a statement. “Taking an extra few minutes to check the meter and outdoor vent are well worth your time.”

Ways to stay safe

• Natural gas smells like rotten eggs for a reason. If your nose picks up this scent, immediately leave the area, and call 911 once you’re away from the site.

• Wait for Black Hills Energy or emergency personnel to arrive before re-entering the building. Emergency personnel will let you know when it’s safe to return.

• Never use a mobile phone, touch a light switch or start an engine while near a suspected gas leak.

• Ensure your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, and never use gas ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.

More information is available online at blackhillscorp.com and blackhillsenergy.com.

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