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Columbia Gas reminds customers to clear meters of snow, ice

COLUMBUS — As Ohioans continue to dig out after several major snowstorms, Columbia Gas of Ohio is reminding customers to keep their natural gas meter and venting free of snow and ice.

The outdoor natural gas meter is designed to withstand winter weather conditions. However, heavy or hard-packed snow and ice, icicles falling from building eaves, or water dripping from a roof and freezing on natural gas meter venting could present a condition that temporarily stops the flow of natural gas or creates a potential safety hazard.

To help avoid these problems, customers are urged to follow some basic tips:

Keep the gas meter clear of ice and snow.

NEVER kick or hit a natural gas meter or its piping with a hammer to break away built-up snow or ice. Remove the snow or ice by hand.

Make sure the natural gas meter is visible at all times and accessible to Columbia Gas of Ohio service personnel and meter readers, as well as emergency responders.

Keep natural gas vents unobstructed and free of debris. Some direct vent and high efficiency appliances have side wall vents and air intakes that could become obstructed during a heavy snow fall.

If you smell gas or suspect a leak:

Inside: Get out immediately. Don’t light a match or candle, or operate anything that could cause a spark, including cell phones, lights, appliances, flashlights and power tools. Don’t open the windows or doors in an attempt to ventilate.

Outside: Turn off and abandon any motorized equipment you might be using. Leave the area quickly and warn others to stay away.

From a safe place, call Columbia Gas of Ohio’s emergency number at 1-800-344-4077 and your fire department or police. Stay nearby until a gas company representative arrives — they will require access to your home or building if the odor of gas is indoors.

The company also advises customers — especially do-it-yourselfers — to “know what’s below” by calling 811 before digging. By law, anyone planning to excavate is required to call 811 or the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at 1-800-362-2764 at least two full working days before work begins.

The service will notify all utilities to mark the approximate location of underground service lines that might be in the construction area at no cost to residential customers.

A call to 811 helps avoid property damage, personal injury, and possible fines.

Columbia Gas of Ohio, with headquarters in Columbus, is one of the nine energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI).

Serving approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties, it is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource distribution companies serve approximately 3.8 million gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio is available at: ColumbiaGasOhio.com.