Energy Safety Tips

Consumers have the responsibility to use utility services safely. In the case of natural gas and electricity, failure to use services safely can be harmful or fatal. The OUCC and IURC encourage consumers to read the following tips carefully. Also, consult with your utility for additional tips and carefully read safety information that may be included in your bills.

Because natural gas is colorless and odorless in its natural form, utilities add a chemical to the gas so you can easily smell a leak. The chemical, mercaptan, smells like rotten eggs and is potent even at small amounts. If you smell this odor:

  • Do not pick up the telephone or use a match or lighter (but do put out any open flames).
  • Do not turn any lights on or off, and do not touch your thermostat or the controls on any other appliances.
  • Leave the property immediately and make sure everyone else evacuates as well.
  • Once you are away from the property and can no longer smell the leak, call the utility or 911.
  • Do not return to the property until the utility says it is safe.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless and colorless, and can quickly cause illness and even death. CO can be formed if natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, charcoal and other fuels are not completely burned. These steps can help prevent CO poisoning:

  • Install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home or business. Test it regularly.
  • Have your heating and air conditioning systems, water heater and other appliances inspected and serviced regularly by a licensed professional. This will not only help the appliances operate safely, but will help them work at the most efficient levels possible (helping to reduce your energy bills).
  • If your office has a chimney or fireplace, have it inspected regularly.
  • Do not burn kerosene, charcoal or other fuels unless you are in a properly ventilated area. (Ventilation in garages is generally not good enough.)
  • NEVER use an oven or stove to try to heat your office.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the property, go outdoors and call 911. (Symptoms may include nausea, headaches, drowsiness, dizziness and confusion.)

Space heaters can cause a serious fire hazard and are a leading cause of injuries and deaths every winter. Consumers are strongly urged to follow these tips:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep space heaters away from furniture, draperies and rugs.
  • Do not plug an electric space heater into an extension cord.
  • Kerosene heaters should only be used in well-ventilated areas.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended.
  • Check outlets for loose fitting plugs, which can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Don’t overload outlets.
  • Replace missing or broken wall plates.
  • Make sure all unused outlets have safety covers to protect children.
  • Make sure cords are in good condition; do not use an appliance if the cord is frayed or cracked.
  • Electric cords should never be warm.
  • Never nail or staple a cord to a wall, baseboard or any other object.
  • Do not place cords under carpets or rugs.
  • Do not rest furniture on a cord.
  • Grab the plug, not the cord, when removing it from an outlet.
  • Do not overload an extension cord, and do not plug more into the cord than it can safely carry.
  • Carefully read the warnings and safety information on an extension cord’s packaging before using it. Follow the warnings carefully, including whether the cord is designed for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Use extension cords only on a temporary basis. Fully uncoil before using.
  • Use a heavy-duty, grounded, three-wire cord for power tools.
  • Use cords that are approved by Underwriters Laboratories and carry the UL trademark.
  • Grab the plug, not the cord, when removing it from an outlet.