Summit County fire fighters: Keep gas meters and fire hydrants clear of snow |

Summit County fire fighters: Keep gas meters and fire hydrants clear of snow

With a deep snowpack already on the ground and more coming, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue is reminding residents to keep their gas meters clear of ice and snow.

Buried or ice-encrusted gas meters can create dangerous natural-gas buildups inside the house. The vent can become plugged when ice and snow melt during the day and refreeze at night.

“We have seen home fires and explosions due to snow and ice damaging a gas meter or the piping,” Lake Dillon Fire assistant chief and fire marshal Steve Skulski said in a written statement “It’s also important to keep the area around the meters clear from snow so if firefighters need access to turn them off, they can reach them.”

On its website, Xcel Energy recommends keeping the entire meter clear of snow and ice, as accumulated snow can prevent the meter from operating properly by stopping the flow of gas.

A snow-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.

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If you do smell natural gas, propane or even suspect a gas leak, leave your home immediately and call 911. Stay out of your home until firefighters arrive and make sure your home is safe to re-enter. Gas buildup in a home can ignite with the simple flick of a light switch or furnace pilot.

Recent snowfall has buried many fire hydrants, and Lake Dillon Fire is asking residents to “adopt a fire hydrant” by digging it out for access in case of a fire.

Fire-rescue personnel clear snow away from hydrants as time permits, but with hundreds of hydrants throughout Summit County, the task is gargantuan, and help from locals is needed.

“In case of a fire, when minutes can mean the difference in saving a structure — or a life — being able to get to water is critical,” said Lake Dillon chief Jeff Berino in a written statement. “Digging out a hydrant during an emergency takes valuable time that we might not have.”

Berino suggested that residents should consider a hydrant closest to their home as a lifeline, requiring the simple maintenance of digging away snow left by natural accumulation and snow plowing.

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