By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
It has been just more than a month since the official beginning of autumn, and until recently, the feel of the fall season has still been missing in the air for some as summer seemed to hang on just a little longer than usual.
Officials with Black Hills Energy would like to remind Kansas residents, however, that despite this, winter is just around the corner, and there are several things they should consider doing before Jack Frost comes nipping at noses and Frosty makes an appearance across area yards.
Black Hills spokesman Karen Campese said homeowners should first look at winterizing their house before the winter season comes calling, and this consists of checking storm windows and exterior doors for cracks or openings.
“Seal any cracks and openings and weatherproof where needed,” she said. “Add insulation where needed. Have your furnace cleaned and change the furnace filters. Make sure there are no flammable materials near your furnace.”
Campese said for those with fireplaces, they need to have it inspected to make sure it is safe. She also recommends cleaning gutters and downspouts, as well as inspecting roofs for any missing or worn shingles.
“Insulate any exposed pipes to prevent water in them from freezing, and drain the garden hose,” she said. “Service or tune up your snow blower, make sure you have a good snow shovel, and stock up on driveway salt, candles, flash lights, extra food and water.”
Black Hills also encourages its customers to make sure their gas heating systems and appliances are clean and working properly before using them this fall.
“Natural gas is a clean, safe, reliable source of energy used to heat more than 70 million U.S. homes and businesses,” said Steve Hanna, Black Hills director of gas operations for Kansas. “Just as you would maintain your car or anything else with moving parts, it’s important to have heating and ventilating equipment inspected annually by a professional.”
Gas-operated equipment and appliances require adequate air for complete combustion and must be properly ventilated for safe and efficient operation.
“An annual inspection and tune up by a heating professional can ensure a customer’s heating equipment is using energy efficiently and operating correctly,” Hanna said.
Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless and results from the burning of fuels, including wood, gasoline, charcoal and natural gas.
Malfunctioning gas furnaces and other gas equipment and appliances have the potential to produce excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, which can collect at unsafe levels if not properly vented.
Like all equipment and appliances, regular inspections of gas operated heating systems can ensure they are safe and working properly.
Signs of unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide can include, but are not limited to, physical flu-like symptoms such as a scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, drowsiness or nausea. Other indicators could include excessive humidity in the building such as frosted windows or a draft from the front of the furnace when it is not operating. Properly working carbon monoxide detectors may offer early warning.
“If a customer has questions about home heating safety, they should call us without hesitation,” Hanna said.
If any customer thinks carbon monoxide is collecting in their home or business, they should leave the premises immediately and call Black Hills Energy using a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone. Black Hills’ 24-hour emergency number is 800-694-8989.