News and Tribune

November 25, 2013

COLD ALERT: Tips on winter safety preparation

INDOT, Vectren offer winter safety information

NEWS AND TRIBUNE
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Indiana Department of Transportation wants drivers to be prepared for the winter weather that arrived, at least in the form of temperatures, and maybe a flurry or two, a little earlier than expected this week.

INDOT’s top priority is snow and ice removal and we use all available resources to keep roads open, maximize the mobility of the traveling public and minimize accidents due to winter traveling conditions, according to an INDOT news release. But the biggest impact to safe winter travel begins and ends with driver behavior.

To help ensure that drivers are prepared INDOT will debut new winter weather videos on the INDOT YouTube channel, holding media events and more.

Drivers can be prepared for winter weather by taking the following steps:

• Know the condition of the roads by visiting Trafficwise or facebook.com/INDOTSoutheast or twitter.com/#!/INDOTSoutheast

• Plan for extra travel time to get to your destination

• Clear off your vehicle completely before hitting the road (not just the windshield)

• Accelerate gradually and brake early to avoid slipping and sliding

• Be alert and give other drivers plenty of room

• Give INDOT plow crews room to work. Stay back, slow down and watch for plows making sudden stops or turns

Drivers can monitor road conditions across the state anytime, day or night, by logging on to www.trafficwise.in.gov. The website is updated during snow events to inform drivers whether road conditions are good, fair or difficult. Or get winter safety tips at winterdrivingsafety.in.gov.



Winter heating safety

Vectren Energy Delivery wants to remind customers to be aware of heating safety throughout the winter months. Having a furnace tune-up by a professional; knowing how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and detect a gas leak; and being aware of the safety precautions associated with the use of space heaters are simple ways to keep your household safe throughout the year.

“As seasonal temperatures continue to drop and the need for heating your home grows, it’s important to keep safety in mind,” Mike Roeder, president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana — North, said in a news release. “Safety begins with simple steps such as ensuring your furnace, space heaters and fireplaces are properly ventilated and the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.”

Customers should consider safety precautions associated with home heating, the use of natural gas and the use of electric space heaters. Furthermore, don’t forget to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home on an annual basis.



Space heater safety

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) supplemental heating equipment, such as electrical and kerosene heaters, is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. To help prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of space heaters, adhere to the following tips as recommended by the NFPA.

• Install and use appliances according to the manufacturer's instructions.

• Consider using space heaters with automatic shut-off capabilities.

• Never use unvented gas or kerosene heaters in closed spaces, especially sleeping areas.

• Don’t use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat the home.

• Leave a window cracked about an inch for ventilation and fresh air. Ventilation is important to keep fuel-burning space heaters from consuming too much oxygen in the house.

• Do not leave a space heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep and keep small children away from the unit at all times.

• Electric space heaters should be checked for signs of fraying or splitting wires or overheating. Likewise, electric space heaters frequently cause fires by overloading electrical outlets.

• Keep space heaters away from combustible materials/products.

• When selecting a space heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.

 

Carbon monoxide safety

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete burning of different fuels including gasoline, kerosene, wood, coal, propane, natural gas and fuel oil. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause illness and excessive levels can be fatal. If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, get fresh air immediately and call 911. To prevent carbon monoxide in your home:

• Make sure all appliances are properly installed and maintained and have a heating professional clean and check your heating and venting system every year.

• Check vents, flue pipes and chimneys for corrosion or blockage.

• Never run a vehicle or fuel-burning equipment in an enclosed place.

• Install at least one carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas to add an extra measure of safety.

 

If you smell natural gas

In the event a gas line has been struck or ruptured outside of a home or business, residents are reminded of the following:

• Leave the area of the gas leak, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable, immediately.

• Do not attempt to re-start or move powered equipment.

• Call Vectren at 1-800-227-1376 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak. The party responsible for the damage to the gas line should also call 911 and report the incident to police and/or fire officials.

• Alert neighboring property owners of the potential leak.

• Remain in a safe area until emergency personnel arrive and do not enter the home/business or neighboring premises.

In the event a gas leak is detected inside of a home or business, residents are reminded of the following:

• Leave the home or business of the gas leak, as well as areas where the odor of gas is noticeable, immediately.

• Do not use the phone or a cell phone while in the building. If you notice the leak while talking on the phone, do not hang up.

• Do not turn any lights, appliances or any electrical sources on or off.

• Do not light matches.

• Do not open or close windows.

• Do not start a vehicle if it’s parked in a garage that’s attached to the home/business of the suspected leak nor utilize an automatic garage door opener upon exiting.

• The activities listed above could trigger an ignition if gas has significantly accumulated.

• Call Vectren at 1-800-227-1376 from somewhere other than the location of the gas leak.

• Alert neighboring property owners of the potential leak.

• Remain in a safe area until emergency personnel arrive and do not re-enter the premises.

Note: There is no charge to the customer for calling Vectren to inspect a potential gas leak. Vectren will respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.