Don't Let Safety Slip as Temperatures Dip

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By United Illuminating on January 24, 2013, 10:27am Last modified: January 25, 2013, 12:38pm

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The current cold snap is expected to last through the weekend, and The United Illuminating Company is urging electric and gas customers to take measures to stay safe and warm during this bitterly cold weather.

Daytime temperatures in coastal areas are expected to remain in the 20s through Sunday, with the mercury falling into the teens and single-digits overnight. Inland areas may be even colder during this period.

As temperatures dip, don’t let safety slip. Stoves, space heaters and other appliances can pose fire and carbon-monoxide hazards if used improperly. If you are unable to keep your home heated to a safe and comfortable temperature, you should call Infoline at 2-1-1 in Connecticut or Massachusetts for resources that can help you and your family to stay safe and warm.

“As temperatures go down, fire and other dangers increase, so it’s a good idea to look around your home for hazards, test your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, and make arrangements to keep your family safe if you lose heat for any reason,” said James P. Torgerson, president and chief executive officer of UIL Holdings.
Here are some tips for staying safe during extreme cold weather.

Space Heaters
Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Read the instructions and use it only in the way intended; never use devices that are designed for outdoor use indoors. Place the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, at least 3 feet from combustible materials. Inspect the cord for fraying, and after plugging it in, periodically feel the cord near the outlet to make sure the plastic is not getting hot. Do not run the space heater cord under a rug or carpeting, and never use an extension cord for a space heater. For more safety information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Council at

Kitchen Appliances
No matter how cold it gets, avoid the temptation to use your range or oven as a heating source. These appliances are designed for cooking, not heating. A natural gas stove or oven used for space heating will use up oxygen you need and presents a carbon-monoxide hazard.

Heating and Hot Water
Keep the furnace area clear of clothing, paper, solvents, paint, trash and other flammable materials, and keep air vents clear to provide a good air supply to your heating system to ensure proper combustion. Don’t ignore drips or odd noises from your heating system — call your heating company to investigate. Wrap exposed pipes in your basement with pipe insulation to help them retain heat and avoid freezing.

Staying Warm
If your home is chilly, don warm clothing to retain body heat to avoid hypothermia (when body temperature drops below normal). The elderly, the sickly and infants are especially susceptible to this condition. Excessive shivering, drowsiness, speech difficulties, irregular heartbeat and unconsciousness are all signs of hypothermia. If someone in your household exhibits these traits, contact a physician immediately. 

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure the batteries are working. Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and tasteless, but toxic — the product of incomplete combustion, which can result from a furnace or space heater problem. Symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu, so make sure the CO detector is in working order.

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United Illuminating


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