FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Lipsher, Public Information Officer
Office: (970) 262-5209
6 February 2014
Summit County fire departments remind residents: Dig out your gas meters!
With a deep snowpack already on the ground and more coming, Summit County’s three fire departments want to remind residents to keep their gas meters clear of ice and snow.
Buried or ice-encrusted gas meters can create dangerous natural-gas buildups inside the house. The vent can become plugged when ice and snow melt during the day and refreeze at night.
“We have seen home fires and explosions due to snow and ice damaging a gas meter or the piping,” said Red, White & Blue Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Jay Nelson. “It’s also important to keep the area around the meters clear from snow so if firefighters need access to turn them off, they can reach them.”
According to the Xcel Energy website: “We recommend keeping the entire meter assembly clear of snow and ice as well. Accumulated snow can prevent the meter from operating properly by stopping the flow of natural gas. Gently remove snow or ice from the natural gas meter and any associated piping. Carefully shovel around a meter and move snow away from it. Avoid using a snow blower near a meter. Always keep a clear path to your gas meter to allow quick access in an emergency. A snow-covered meter, in addition to being potentially dangerous, can also lead to a loss of service and freezing of inside pipes as a result of lost heat.”
To avoid problems, fire authorities suggest these important tips:
- Make sure your meter is visible and accessible at all times
- Never kick or hit the gas meter or its piping to break away built-up snow or ice
- Keep air supply ducts and vents clear to avoid obstructing the release of gas
- Do not tie anything to the meter, including pets
In the photo, the arrow points to the meter's gas pressure regulator vent. (Photo courtesy of Xcel Energy)
If you do smell natural gas, propane or even suspect a gas leak, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1. Stay out of your home until firefighters arrive and make sure your home is safe to re-enter. Gas buildup in a home can ignite with the simple flick of a light switch or furnace pilot.
Copper Mountain Fire, Lake Dillon Fire and Red, White & Blue Fire, along with Xcel Energy, strongly recommend that you check your gas meter regularly to ensure it is free of ice and snow, especially if the meter is exposed to melting precipitation. If you notice ice on your meter or are concerned that the meter’s regulator vent may be blocked, please call Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-2999 or, for residents of Blue River and the Hoosier Pass area, Colorado Natural Gas at 1-800-720-8193.