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Your Tewksbury Today

Ice On And Above Gas Meters Poses Lethal Danger

Dec 26, 2017 05:57AM ● By Bill Gilman
Atty. Paul King

 Everyone is looking forward to spring and the warmer weather it brings.

However, following a harsh winter, the transition period into spring can pose deadly risks, especially for those who heat their homes with natural gas.

Over the past few weeks, there have been more than a dozen gas leaks reported in Tewksbury, connected to ice that has accumulated on gas meters and ice that has fallen from roofs and gutters, damaging the meters. On Monday, falling ice was blamed for triggering a fire on Ronsevell Avenue that killed two dogs and three cats.

Last month, a small dog was killed by falling ice from another Tewksbury home.

According to Tewksbury Fire Capt. Jon Viscione, there are two distinct dangers that homeowners need to be aware of at this time of year. The first is melting ice dams. According to Viscione, as the ice begins to melt, it can crack and chunks can fall off. Such was the case with the ice that killed the dog and the ice that triggered the fire. Viscione said its important for residents to clear the ice from their roof and gutters, but especially in the area directly above their gas meter.

"The ice can fall and shear the meter right off," he said. "We ran into that last week when we had to shut down a business because the meter had been sheared off by the ice and caused a gas leak."

The second problem is more subtle but can cause just as great a danger. According to Viscione, when ice and snow cover a gas meter, it can melt and liquid can seep into the meter and connections. When it refreezes, it expands and can cause gas leaks. This has been a common problem.

The solution, according to Viscione, is to make sure the meters are kept clear of snow and ice.

National Grid provided the following information to help residents keep their homes and families safe:

National Grid is urgently asking Long Island news media to continue to remind home and business owners that they must protect themselves from dangers associated with snow build up and cold as more wintry weather is forecasted for the region. This includes:

  • Remove snow and ice that is overhanging natural gas meters. Falling ice and snow can damage this equipment and result in a gas leak. Use caution and using a brush or broom is recommended.
  • Take immediate action anytime you suspect a natural gas leak.
  • Clear snow from around furnace and other gas appliance vents. Failing to do so could cause deadly carbon monoxide (CO) to back up into buildings.

Here are some things to remember:

Natural Gas Leaks

  • All occupants should leave the house immediately. Do not use the telephone or light switches for any reason.
  • After leaving the house and reaching a safe environment, call the National Grid 24-hour gas emergency number: Nassau and Suffolk: 1-800-490-0045.
  • Do not return to your home until National Grid tells you it is safe.

Snow Clearing Safety

  • Be aware of your gas meter and piping location before snow plowing or snow blowing; mechanized equipment can cause damage or leaks if it comes in contact with equipment.
  • Heavy snow loads and ice could damage the connections of your gas service to your building.

Carbon Monoxide

  • If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and breathe deeply; then call 911. If symptoms, such as dizziness and nausea are severe, get medical attention before calling National Grid.


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