With flowers in bloom and temperatures on the rise, the record-breaking snow of last winter is becoming a distant memory for hardy New Englanders. While the summer season is just gearing up, it’s never too early to begin preparing for winter’s inevitable return. The American Red Cross and Unitil, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, are encouraging residents to take steps this summer that will keep their families and properties safe all year long.
“Although many of us would prefer otherwise, winter is coming,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara. “We know that last winter’s extreme snow and cold temperatures created a challenging situation for many property owners whose gas vents and meters were blocked by multiple feet of snow and ice. We’re urging customers to take action now, so they’re prepared next winter.”
Unitil encourages local residents and homeowners to take time now while the weather is warm to locate the gas meters and vents on their property. Take a walk around the perimeter of your building to identify the location of your natural gas equipment, so you’ll know what areas to keep clear next winter.
This summer, Unitil also advises customers to take the following precautions:
- Check your gutters to assure water does not drip directly on your meter or vent pipe – in the winter these leaks can become dangerous icicles that can damage equipment. Contact a qualified roofing vendor if you cannot check the gutters yourself.
- When doing yardwork, avoid hitting your meter with a rake or shovel as it can damage the meter.
- Avoid shoveling dirt or mulch up against or covering the gas meter or pipe.
- Call Dig Safe (811) before digging on your property. Even small projects such as installing a mailbox or a fence can cause serious utility accidents if the location of buried gas lines is unknown. Dig Safe should be notified before any earth-penetrating activity.
American Red Cross Chief Communications Officer, Lloyd Ziel, also reminds us that, as days get warmer and we spend more time outdoors and around water, we should remain vigilant. “Actively supervising children when they’re around water is critical. Even if lifeguards are present, you can never have too many eyes looking out for swimmers in trouble.”
Here are some guidelines to follow when heat becomes extreme:
- Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
Here are some safety tips to follow when you’re in, on or around water.
- Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
- Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
- Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
- If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers—many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than 5 minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
For additional advice on natural gas safety, please visit www.unitil.com and for more summer safety tips , visit http://www.redcross.org/.