Natural Gas Dangers as Winter Draws Near

With the arrival of cooler weather, Alliant Energy encourages its customers to be mindful of natural gas safety principles.

Richard Sublett, director of operational compliance and work order management for Alliant Energy commented, “As the temperatures drop and customers begin to turn on their furnaces, there are some precautions they can take to keep their families and communities safe.”

Alliant Energy has advice for those of you who choose to listen. Make sure to know the signs of a gas leak and what to do. Understand the risk of carbon monoxide and how to detect it. Typically, a gas leak has an odor like rotten eggs, which is an odorant added from utilities due to natural gas having no scent. You might hear a hiss, roar, or whistle, near a gas appliance, meter, or pipeline. Blowing dirt, bubbling water, or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area can also be telltale signs.

While we are all hoping that snow doesn’t come soon, it is almost a guarantee that it will eventually fall in Iowa. Once it does, do not let snow or ice block gas vents, as that can cause a variety of problems in your home. As always, dig safely when outside.

Natural gas detectors help identify the threat and are especially important for those with a known loss of smell. Additionally, certain soil conditions can strip the rotten egg odorant out of natural gas; cooking aromas and other strong smells can mask the odorant; and prolonged exposure can make the odorant undetectable. If your natural gas detector goes off or you experience any of the signs listed above, move quickly to a safe location and call Alliant Energy at 1-800-255-4268.

Carbon monoxide can also be a danger when a furnace or gas appliance malfunctions. Carbon monoxide detectors help identify this threat. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, odorless gas that causes dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, confusion, nausea and fainting. If you come across signs of a gas leak or experience these symptoms, leave the premises immediately. From a safe location, call 911.

Once winter arrives, snow and ice can damage gas meters and pipes. Use a broom to keep gas service equipment clear. You must clear vents for gas appliances following a major snow or ice storm to enable proper venting and prevent carbon monoxide accumulation.

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