As residents begin to hold gatherings and decorate their homes and businesses for the holiday season, UGI encourages all members of the community to remember the following energy-related safety tips:
· Practice good safety habits when using a natural gas oven and stove. If you use natural gas for cooking, be sure to keep loose clothing, dish towels and other flammable items away from the burners and hot stove surfaces. In addition, to allow for proper air flow and avoid accidental fires, keep your stove and the area around it clean and free from bags, wrappers, product caps, lids and boxes, etc.
· If you use a deep fryer for a fried turkey, operate it safely. Fried turkey is delicious, but preparing one comes with a number of safety issues. Thousands of fires occur each year due to turkey fryer fires. Set up the turkey fryer at least 10 feet away from your home or garage on a flat, level surface. Keep children and pets away and never leave the fryer unattended.
· Always keep a fire extinguisher ready when cooking. The ideal home fire extinguisher is one that can put out wood, grease, oil and electrical fires, and one that is lightweight enough for anyone to operate easily.
· Remove flammable items from ignition sources. Make sure Christmas trees, gifts, decorations and discarded bags, boxes and wrapping paper are kept away from fireplaces, radiators and other heating sources. Turn off tree lights and lit decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use. If you have a live tree, make sure it is watered every day.
· Inspect your decorations. Discard any lights that are damaged or show excessive wear. Check for any frayed wires, damaged sockets, or broken bulbs that could be a fire hazard. Consider replacing old lights with newer LED ones that can save energy. Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.
· Properly use electric extension cords. If using outdoor lights around your home, make sure you use outdoor-rated extension cords and timers. Follow the directions on cord labels regarding connecting light strings and extension cords to avoid overloading electrical circuits. If a cord feels hot to the touch, it is overloaded and may cause an electrical fire. To help avoid overheating indoor extension cords, do not run them under furniture or carpeting, behind baseboards, or over walkways. Do not run extension cords through windows or garage doors. Do not string a series of extension cords together.
· Keep an eye on children and pets. Children may be tempted to play with lights or cords, while pets may chew on them. Do not leave children or pets unsupervised in a room with fire hazards, such as a fireplace, candles and candle warmers, or any other source of heat or flame.
· Beware of Scams Around the Holidays. Scammers are particularly active during the holiday season. Protect yourself and your loved ones by educating each other on common utility phone scams. For example, UGI customers have periodically received phone calls or emails stating they owe money for their energy bills and that non-payment will result in having their service shut off later that day. The caller then instructs the customer to purchase and send a money order or pre-paid cash card to avoid shut-off. These phone calls or emails are scams and are not generated by UGI or an agent of the company. UGI does not follow this procedure when a customer is not current on their account.
· Protect your family and co-workers from carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a colorless and odorless gas that can build up inside a home due to malfunctioning heating units or other fuel-burning appliances, as well as by blocked chimneys and exhaust vents. While CO is odorless, a smoky or sooty smell is often generated by the malfunctioning appliance or blocked chimney. Signs that an appliance may be producing CO include condensation on walls and windows, house pets becoming sluggish, and residents in the home suffering flu-like symptoms or feeling unusually tired. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately seek fresh air and prompt medical attention. UGI recommends that all homes have working CO detectors on every floor, especially near heating equipment and bedrooms.
· Call UGI or 911 if you detect the odor of gas. An odorant that smells like rotten eggs is added to natural gas to assist in detecting a gas leak. If you smell the odor of natural gas, leave the building immediately, taking everyone with you and leaving the door open. Do not use the phone, light a match, or switch anything on or off. Once in a location where the odor of gas is no longer present, call 911 or UGI from your cell phone or neighbor’s home. UGI’s emergency response number is 1-800-276-2722. UGI will send a service technician to investigate the odor immediately. Emergency response is available 24-hours a day, every day. There is no cost to investigate a report of a gas leak.
Additional safety tips are available on UGI’s website at www.ugi.com/safety.
UGI Utilities is a natural gas and electric utility with headquarters in Denver, Pennsylvania. UGI serves more than 730,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland. Customers and community members are invited to visit the UGI website at www.ugi.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities; or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.