UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL) and its operating companies urge customers to take measures to stay safe and warm during the bitterly cold weather that’s forecast this week for Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The risk of fire, carbon monoxide exposure and other hazards can increase as residents seek to stay warm during the extreme cold, said James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive officer of UIL Holdings, corporate parent of The United Illuminating Company, The Southern Connecticut Gas Company, Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation and The Berkshire Gas Company.
“As this extreme cold weather sets in, we encourage our customers to take a look around their homes and make sure they’re able to keep themselves and their families warm in the days ahead, and to identify any potential safety risks that need to be addressed,” Torgerson said.
Here are some safety tips for the extreme cold.
If you are unable to keep your home heated safely and comfortably, call Infoline at 211 in Connecticut or Massachusetts for resources that can help you and your family. When exposed to cold temperatures, wear warm clothing in order to avoid hypothermia. The elderly and infants are especially susceptible to hypothermia. Excessive shivering, drowsiness, speech difficulties, irregular heartbeat and unconsciousness are all signs of hypothermia. If someone in your household exhibits these traits, get medical attention immediately.
Stove and Range
The stove, range and other kitchen appliances are designed for cooking, not heating. Please avoid using appliances improperly. In addition to creating a fire hazard, a natural gas stove or oven can present a carbon-monoxide risk when used for space heating.
Use a space heater that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use a device designed for outdoor use indoors. Place the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, at least 3 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 you leave the area.
Heating, Hot Water and Plumbing
Keep the furnace area clear of flammable materials and keep vents clear to provide a good air supply to your heating system to ensure proper combustion. Don’t ignore drips or odd noises from your heating system — call your heating company to investigate. Wrap exposed pipes in your basement with pipe insulation to help them retain heat and avoid freezing.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Place smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to make sure the batteries are working, and replace the batteries at least twice a year. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, but toxic. It is the product of incomplete combustion, which can result from a furnace or space heater problem. Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu, so make sure the CO detector is in working order.