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Yankee Gas Services Company
P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141-0270
Yankee Gas Urges Caution When Making Preparations For Emergencies
Misinformation could lead to safety hazards
Mary B. Ingarra
BERLIN, Conn., April 10, 2003 (NYSE: NU) –
Yankee Gas Services Company, part of the Northeast Utilities system, is urging customers to be cautious of emergency preparedness information that is available on the Internet and other sources. Some of the advice, while well-intentioned, may pose a safety risk that could potentially endanger lives and compromise public safety.
Gas masks are not designed for protection from natural gas
The prevalence of gas masks in the news recently has prompted some to question if they can also provide protection in the event of a natural gas leak. "The answer is no," said Robert S. Farnum, Yankee Gas' Operations Policy administrator. "First, natural gas is not poisonous. Natural gas is lighter than air and dissipates quickly in open, outside areas. However, if natural gas flows into an enclosed area, such as a sealed room, it rises to the ceiling, displacing air, which can cause suffocation. A gas mask is of no use in a room without air," Farnum added.
Natural gas is odorless and colorless. Yankee Gas adds an odorant, called mercaptan that gives it a distinctive "rotten egg" odor, making leaks easier to detect.
If you think you smell natural gas in a building, alert others and leave the building immediately. Leave the door and windows open, but don't stop to open windows that are closed. Do not operate any electrical switches, telephones, cell phones or flashlights. Go to a neighbor’s and call Yankee’s 24-hour gas leak emergency number, 1-800-992-3427, and stay away from the building until gas company or public safety officials determine it is safe to return.
Customers should not try to turn gas service on or off
Increased public concern over terrorism and homeland security has prompted several government agencies to offer information intended to help the public prepare for disaster or emergencies. While the information and readiness tips offered on Web sites and in pamphlets are good, Yankee Gas is concerned about one recommendation that homeowners know how to shut off their utilities – water, gas and electric – at the main switches. Yankee Gas strongly recommends that natural gas valves
be closed or opened by people who are properly trained to do so.
"For safety reasons, gas valves must be opened only by a qualified Yankee Gas employee or a licensed plumber," said Farnum. "We are very concerned that customers, who may try to restart their own service, can create a safety hazard for themselves and others."
Carbon Monoxide – An important safety reminder
Every year, many homeowners seal their windows with plastic to keep out drafts. While this is an effective energy conservation measure, taking it to the extreme can have potentially deadly effects. Recently, there have been news reports of people sealing all openings or vents in their homes over fear of chemical or biological threats. Yankee Gas warns that lack of air circulation, especially around furnaces, fireplaces and other energy equipment can produce a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide (CO). CO is the result of a lack of air needed for complete combustion of fuels. Breathing even small amounts over a long period can be dangerous and even deadly. And because CO is odorless and colorless, you may never know it is present, absent a CO detector.
Whether you heat your home with oil, natural gas, propane, coal or wood, your heating system can produce carbon monoxide (CO) if it's not working properly or if air intakes or flues are blocked.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include: headaches, dizziness, nausea, unclear thinking, and shortness of breath, weakness, vision problems and loss of muscle control. If you suspect the presence of CO in your home, open windows and doors, leave the home or building and call your fuel supplier or licensed heating contractor for an emergency inspection. If CO is detected, seek medical attention immediately.
The American Gas Association, an industry association representing gas companies across the country, is working with federal agencies to clarify information about natural gas. In the interim, if you have questions or concerns about your heating system, contact your heating contractor. Additional natural gas safety information is available on the Yankee Gas web site,
To learn more about preparing for an emergency or a disaster, the Office of Homeland Security has set up a Web site at
. In Connecticut, the Greater Hartford Chapter of the Red Cross also offers good information on its Web site, www.
Yankee Energy System, Inc., (YES) which is part of the Northeast Utilities System, includes Yankee Gas Services Company, the largest natural gas distribution company in Connecticut serving approximately 191,000 customers in 70 cities and towns throughout the state. Yankee Energy also includes Yankee Energy Financial Services Company, which provides a full range of residential and commercial energy equipment financing options. Further information about YES can be obtained from its Web sites:
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