Snow day safety tips for homeowners

Snowy cabin

Winter weather on the way?  Technical Safety BC reminds homeowners to take special care of their gas and electrical appliances in snowy weather. Here are our top five "snowday" tips:

Keep gas meters clear

Snow and ice on a gas meter set can damage the fittings and pipes causing leaks and potentially a fire hazard. A gas meter set covered in snow or ice can possibly prevent it from properly controlling the gas pressure. To keep it clear, gently remove any snow build-up on your meter set with your hands, a brush or small broom. If there is ice on the meter set, never kick at or use devices to strike ice off a meter. Check your gas meter set after each snowfall and call your gas supplier immediately if your gas meter set becomes encased in ice.

Be gentle with propane tanks

Piping, gauges, tubing and regulators are fragile and allowing snow and ice to build up on them can be dangerous. Use a broom, brush or your gloved hand to gently clear off snow. Never use a shovel to get snow or ice off of a tank because of the risk of damage.

Keep exterior vents clear

If snow and ice are allowed to accumulate near the exterior vents of your home, flue products that contain carbon monoxide can be prevented from venting outside, and may recirculate into your home putting you and your family at risk. After each snow fall, take a quick walk around your property to make sure exterior vents for dryers, furnaces, etc. are swept clear so that equipment can operate properly.

Use generators safely

If your power goes out, a generator can be a great backup. But portable gas generators can pose the risk of carbon monoxide. For this reason, never use a portable generator inside your house, garage, basement, crawlspace, shed or in a semi-enclosed space, such as a porch close to the house. Generators should generally be kept at least 20 feet away from the house when in use – follow the certified manufacturer’s instructions for exact clearances and requirements.

Consider lesser known sources of CO

It may be obvious that gas fireplaces can be a source of carbon monoxide, but so can oil fired appliances and wood or even pellet stoves. Watch for the signs of CO exposure, which can resemble the flu and include headaches, dizziness and vomiting.

A good safeguard against CO exposure is to have your gas appliances serviced at least annually by a licensed gas contractor. When using a wood fireplace keep dampers open and crack a window to allow airflow within the home. When using a pellet stove, the best prevention is having your venting cleaned once a year. Having a CO detector on each floor of your home is also an important exposure preventative measure.

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