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Yankee Gas Services Company
P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141-0270
Yankee Gas School Safety Program Reaches More than 6,000 Connecticut Fourth Graders
Sandy St. Pierre
MERIDEN, Conn., August 20, 2000 (NYSE: NU) –
During the 2000-2001 school year, thousands of Connecticut fourth grade students learned about natural gas through an educational gas safety program offered statewide by Yankee Gas Services Company. A total of 6,627 students throughout Yankee Gas’ service area learned that natural gas originates from decayed organic material, smells like rotten eggs and is environmentally friendly.
The school safety program is a grassroots approach to increase public awareness of natural gas safety. This year, the program was presented in 85 schools in 26 cities and towns and involved more than 30 Yankee Gas employees.
One Meriden student commented, “I learned a lot and now I can share what I learned with my family. Now we can be safe and know what to do if we smell natural gas.”
“This program continues to be popular with students and teachers across the state,” said Chris Beschler, Yankee Gas vice president. It includes a video that explains where natural gas comes from and how it is transported through an underground pipeline system and distributed to homes and businesses. The video also explains how natural gas is one of the cleanest, most efficient sources of energy and is good for the environment.
In most cases, according to Beschler, the classroom program includes “show and tell,” where students see what a real natural gas meter looks like, as well as some of the equipment used by Yankee personnel in the field. In addition, students are shown what a valve cover looks like; they also learn the importance of these covers in protecting underground valves which can be used to turn natural gas off in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the meter and valve, students get to try on the protective gear worn by Yankee Gas employees – including a hard hat, safety goggles, ear protection and a reflective safety vest. They also are introduced to the odor of natural gas from scratch-n-sniff cards, which can help them identify a gas leak.
“This year a student in Ridgefield was able to put what he learned to use,” said Beschler. “The boy’s father smelled natural gas outdoors and was looking up a phone number to call, when the boy handed him a pencil he received in class that was imprinted with Yankee Gas’ phone number.” Yankee Gas responded to the call and determined the odor was a neighbor’s overfilled propane tank, said Beschler, but the incident proves the program does have an impact on the students.
“We explain that natural gas is actually odorless and that we add a chemical called mercaptan to natural gas to give it its “rotten eggs” odor and if that’s what they’re smelling, then they need to take certain steps for safety,” said Beschler. Those steps include not using any appliance; not turning off or on any light switches; and leaving the house immediately, going to a neighbor’s to call Yankee Gas. They also are told not to play with gas appliances or to hang on pipes or meters.
“It’s a comprehensive program that’s well-received by both students and teachers. Our field coordinators work hand-in-hand with teachers, who help prepare their students in advance of our visit,” said Beschler. “We leave them with a safety message about natural gas, but we also tell them how important it is to stay in school and get a good education.”
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 187,000 customers in 69 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 site: www.yankeeenergy.com
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