Blocked Furnace Venting
The anticipated heavy snowfall and drifting brings one more thing that Medford homeowners need to keep an eye on. Home owners with High Efficiency, direct vent furnaces and water heaters need to check to see that the venting has not been drifted over with snow or blocked. These systems typically vent through the sill plate of the home, close to ground level through a white PVC piping like in the photo above. Drifting snow has the potential to block these vents, causing your furnace or water heater to not operate. These systems have sensors that will detect blockage which will shut down the system. Simply got out and check to make sure these vents have adequate clearance. If they are blocked, simply clear the snow out of and away from the vents, and you should be good to go. If there are still problems, call your heating contractor to resolve the issue.
Ice and Snow Covered Natural Gas Meters
The anticipated heavy snows have potential to damage gas meters, creating the potential for natural gas leaks. If your home has an outside natural gas meter, check it routinely for any accumulation of ice or snow. A plugged regulator vent on a natural gas meter can lead to a dangerous buildup of natural gas inside a building and/or prevent the meter from operating properly, stopping the flow of natural gas. Customers need to 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. A 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. If you smell a strong and persistent odor similar to sulfur, you may have a natural gas leak. If you suspect a leak, leave your home immediately and when you are at a safe distance away call 911.
With forecasts for powerful winds expected throughout the Burlington County Area, the Medford Fire Division reminds individuals and families to stay safe and be prepared. Some basic preparation and common-sense safety tips will help ensure safety and help prevent property damage during possible power outages and high winds.
Preparing for High Winds
- Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
- During the storm, draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
If you are caught outside during high winds:
- Take cover next to a building or under a secure shelter
- Stand clear of roadways, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle
- Use handrails where available, and avoid elevated areas such as roofs
- Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may come loose during strong winds
If you are driving:
- Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down
- Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path
- Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes, as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel
- Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as trucks, vans, SUVs, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to being pushed or flipped by high wind gusts
- If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, safely pull over onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle.
Top Safety Tips for a Power Outage
- Assemble essential supplies, including: flashlight, batteries, portable radio, at least one gallon of water, and a small supply of food.
- Only use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Due to the extreme risk of fire, do not use candles during a power outage.
- Use the phone for emergencies only. Listening to a portable radio can provide the latest information.
- Do not call 9-1-1 for information – only call to report a life-threatening emergency. The non-emergency telephone number is 609-654-7511.
- Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
- Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out. Leave one light on so you know when the power comes back on.
- Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
- If you use medication that requires refrigeration, most can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
- Stay focused on the risks of smoke and carbon monoxide. Buy a carbon monoxide alarm if you do not already have one. They are available at most hardware stores. If you have one, check the battery to make sure it is working. If the alarm sounds: get to fresh air by going outside and call 911 to report the emergency.
With the high winds expected during this weekend’s snow storm, it is possible that wires could be knocked down due to high winds, trees or ice.
- It is important to remember that wires installed on utility poles carry electricity. When wires are down, they are dangerous — electricity can still flow through them. Never assume that a downed power line is not energized as they still could be “live.”
- Stay at least 300 feet away from all downed wires – and keep others from going near them as well. Call 911 immediately to report hazard.
- Any wire on the ground or hanging from a pole must be considered to be live. Telephone and cable TV wires may be entangled with electric wires and must also be treated as live.
- Be especially careful when driving or parking a vehicle near downed wires. If downed wires are in the street, near the curb, or on the sidewalk, use extreme caution. Never drive over downed power lines. Even if not energized, they can become entangled in your vehicle.
- In the event that a wire comes down on a vehicle with passengers, our advice is to stay in the vehicle until professional help arrives to safely remove you from the vehicle. If you MUST get out of the vehicle because of fire or other life-threatening hazards, jump clear of the vehicle so that you do not touch any part of the car and the ground at the same time. Jump as far as possible away from the vehicle with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. Once you clear the vehicle, shuffle away, with both feet on the ground, or hop away, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time. Do not run away from the vehicle as the electricity forms rings of different voltages. Running may cause your legs to “bridge” current from a higher ring to a lower voltage ring. This could result in a shock. Move to a safe distance away.
- Never use water on an electric fire, burning vehicle or wire, or extend a pole or stick that can allow a path through which the electricity can travel. Our human instinct is to reach out to help, but touching an individual who has been energized also provides a path for the electricity to travel. Call 911 for help immediately.
- Do not attempt to cut or remove a tree that is, or could become, entangled with power lines. Call 911 immediately to report hazard.
The bottom line: Never go near or touch an electrical wire. Never go near or touch anything or anyone that has come in contact with an electrical wire.