Pittsfield, MA – Thursday, February 2, 2023 – Berkshire Gas, a subsidiary of AVANGRID Inc., is reminding customers of measures they can take to stay safe and warm with extreme cold weather moving into the New England region beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend. Temperatures are expected to fall to zero or below Friday and Saturday, with a return to seasonal conditions forecast for Sunday. Berkshire Gas warns that the risk of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and other hazards can increase during frigid weather.
“With the forecast signaling extremely cold temperatures beginning Friday, Berkshire Gas encourages our customers to take some simple, practical steps to keep their friends, family, and homes safe throughout the weekend,” said Berkshire Gas President Sue Kristjansson. “The cold-snap headed for Massachusetts this weekend, while short in duration, can become dangerous quickly, so customers should be aware of the resources available to help them stay safe and warm through the duration of the event.”
Customers should keep exhaust vents, gas meters and regulators clear of snow and ice as they clean up after winter storms. Snow, ice and other debris can block exhaust vents for furnaces, water heaters and similar appliances, potentially causing toxic fumes and poisonous carbon monoxide to build up indoors.
If one is unable to keep their home safely and comfortably heated, call 211 for resources that can help. Exposure to extreme cold can cause serious medical conditions, including hypothermia and frostbite. To avoid them, stay indoors, if possible, and wear warm clothing, including head coverings, gloves or mittens.
For information about frostbite, hypothermia, and other concerns, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/index.html.
Call Berkshire Gas at 800-292-5012 to report gas leaks, odors or damaged gas equipment. If one suspects a leak, leave the area or building and call from a safe place. If there’s an immediate danger, call 911.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be located on every level of a home, outside all sleeping areas. Test them monthly and replace the batteries at least twice a year.
Never use a stove or oven to stay warm. Only space heaters intended for indoor use should be operated indoors or in enclosed spaces, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Any generator that plugs into a home’s wiring should be connected via a transfer switch by a licensed electrician. This ensures that, when the generator is in use, house wiring is isolated from utility lines. Improper installation can damage the generator, or create hazards for utility employees working on poles, or even the general public. If adding a natural gas-fired generator, consult the gas company to ensure there is adequate pressure. Generators should be placed outdoors and away from doors and windows to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide.
Use only space heaters that have been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and never use a device designed for outdoor use indoors. Place the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, at least three feet from combustible materials. Inspect the cord for fraying, and after plugging it in, periodically feel the cord near the outlet to make sure the plastic is not getting hot. Do not run the space heater cord under a rug or carpeting, and never use an extension cord for a space heater. Keep children and pets away, and turn off the space heater when leaving the area.
More space heater safety information can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy website, at https://energy.gov/energysaver/portable-heaters.
Heating, Hot Water and Plumbing
Keep the furnace area clear of flammable materials and keep vents clear to provide a good air supply to a heating system to ensure proper combustion.
Water pipes that are exposed to cold temperatures may freeze and burst. Don’t ignore drips or odd noises from your heating system. Wrap exposed pipes in the basement with pipe insulation to help them retain heat and avoid freezing.
The American Red Cross offers additional tips for avoiding frozen pipes at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes.
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