Keep gas meters clear in case of emergency

A gas meter under snow and ice. (Feb. 5, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — DTE Energy Co. is warning customers about potential dangers from icicles and asking for help to keep access to meters clear of snow.

Several area fire departments have asked residents to remove snow from around hydrants, which they say can save vital minutes in the event of a fire. DTE says clearing gas meters can also save time during an emergency.

DTE is asking customers to do three things: Keep an open path to the meter, remove ice and snow from the meter , and remove icicles from above the meters before they fall.

Wednesday, DTE employee Abraham Garcia went on the hunt for meters.

“With the amount of snow that has built up around the ends here, you couldn’t see where the meter is actually located,” Garcia showed 24 Hour News 8.

DTE has technology that helps them find the meters, but using that would cost time during an emergency.

“It is an extra step, but it is one we would have to take in this case because there is nothing visual that we could say we know where it is located,” Garcia said.

The snow alone could cause delays in shutting gas off if there is a leak and will certainly slow reading the meters.

But a perhaps bigger problem is that icicles above meters could break loose and cause potentially dangerous damage.

“Falling directly on top of the meter sets causing possible leaks and damage to the facilities,” Garcia said.

The issues are not limited to residential customers. In some cases, heavy sheets of ice can slide off commercial roofs and land on meters. That could cause a lot of damage.

“Just be conscious of the potential dangers behind the buildup, and just kind of take time to clear out the snow around the meters,” Garcia said. “That will help us in responding to any situations that occur.”

It’s best to clear the snow and ice away by hand to prevent further damage.

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