MARQUETTE - With the transition between fall and winter upon us, there are a range of things to consider which could help homeowners stay safe, save money and keep the home fires burning this winter.
Upper Peninsula Power Co. officials have several suggestions, which could help homeowners save money or be more prepared for winter, as most people spend more time inside their homes using heating sources during the winter months:
- Check and clean chimneys and all vents of leaves, debris or small animal nests
- Get heating systems checked and tuned up before the heating season arrives
- Keep a supply of furnace filters on hand and change them out every month
- If space heaters are used, operate them according to manufacturer's suggested use and ventilation requirements
- Install UL-safety approved smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in proper locations inside your home. There should be a properly working smoke detectocr on each floor of the house and at least one carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom area of the home.
- Check and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxice detectors, and test the devices, on a regular basis.
- Keep utility emergency numbers readily available. UPPCO's number for emergency service is 1-800-562-7809.
With winter's cold days and nights just around the corner and tough economic times continuing, a number of area residents may need to consider seeking heating assistance in the coming months.
There are several organizations in the area that work with government funding sources to distribute aid to residents, including the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.
However, there is current uncertainty about the amount of state and federal funding expected to be made available for assistance programs this winter. The state legislature has been working on problems and solutions, in the wake of a recent court decision, which has had an impact on the situation.
But it is likely the need for heating assistance will continue to be significant across Michigan. One state program alone previously provided assistance to nearly 100,000 low-income residents.
The Alger-Marquette Community Action Board is another local agency involved in helping area residents with heating assistance.
"We distributed about $253,000 last year," said AMCAB executive director Earl Hahn in Marquette.
Of those recipients, 25 percent were also Social Security recipients. Hahn said often, many people think of heating assistance recipients as younger individuals, but that often isn't always the case.
Before winter arrives, those working on fall clean-up chores could avoid dangerous situation and stay safe by following common sense safety tips provided by UPPCO.
The utility wants the public to remember:
- Ladders and power lines do not mix. Whether painting, cleaning gutters, adding storm windows or getting on a roof, place ladders at least 10 feet away from any power line. Placing a ladder against a round tree trunk or power pole can also lead to unstable climbing.
- Tree trimming should be left to the professionals, particularly when done near power lines. UPPCO has an established, regular scheduled tree-trimming program for larger power lines.
- If digging in your yard, contact Miss Dig in Michigan. The phone number hotline is 811. UPPCO suggests not planting tall growing trees below overhead power lines.
- Homeowners with ground mounted transformers on their property can landscape around the transformer, but are advised to not plant on the padlocked side of the unit. Utility crews may need to get access inside the unit for possible repairs. Before planting anything or digging near a ground mounted transformer, it's important to contact Miss Dig.
- Power tools, like chainsaws, leaf blowers, brush trimmers and power spray washers can cause accidents when used improperly. Electric power tools require an extension cord which should be in good condition and placed where no one trips over it. UPPCO advises not to use those electric power tools in damp or rainy conditions and don't remove safety guards on tools.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.