Customer Experience
November 20, 2023

Xcel Energy employees offer critical tips for winter safety

Keep your gas meter free of snow and ice to protect you, your family and our employees

Xcel Energy customers live in some of the coldest climates in the United States, which means winter safety is an important part of life. While skilled employees work diligently to ensure a safe and cozy winter for you, there are some important winter safety steps you can take to protect yourself and your home.  
Following a winter storm, driveways and sidewalks are not the only things that must be cleared. Keeping ice and snow off your natural gas meter and clearing a path to the meter helps Xcel Energy employees do their jobs safely and reliably. It also protects your family from seasonal hazards that can cause personal harm, property damage and interruptions to your gas and electrical service.  
Jake Farber, a gas emergency responder in Leadville, Colorado, is very familiar with the importance of clearing ice and snow from your meter. Leadville is situated at an elevation of over 10,000 feet – the third highest city in the United States. When the snow hits, Jake gets busy. “We get run over by snow up here, and after a melt and refreeze, a glacier of snow and ice coming off your roof can severely damage your meter.”  
Jake has been in gas emergency response for 33 years and is dedicated to keeping customers safe. He works with snow removal companies and canvases the area to let customers know how important it is to clear space for gas meters.  
“I’ve had an experience where the whole meter is in a block of ice,” says Mike McConaughey, who works in and around the St. Paul, Minnesota, area. “Digging out gas meters and chipping away ice takes time and impacts our ability to keep customers safe in an emergency situation.”  
In Mike’s 31 years at the company, he’s built a great relationship with customers. “We definitely know that our customers care and help us by keeping their meters clear. A lot of it is just education, and letting people know the hazards.”  
This winter, and every winter, don’t forget there is more to do than shovel when winter weather hits. Follow these tips to stay safe and warm: 
Natural gas safety 
  • It's your responsibility to keep your natural gas meter and the area around it clear, for your safety and the safety of our employees.   
  • Carefully clear snow and ice from your natural gas meter to avoid a dangerous buildup of pressure in your gas lines or natural gas inside your home. Gently remove accumulated snow or ice by hand.  
  • Clear a path to your meter for easy access in an emergency.  
  • Safely remove ice and snow buildup on roofs and trees that could fall and cover or damage your gas meter.   
Electrical safety  
  • Winter ice storms can cause electrical lines to sag or drop to the ground. Always assume a downed power line is energized and can hurt or kill you.   
  • Stay at least 30 feet away from sagging or downed power lines.   
  • Report sagging and downed power lines to Xcel Energy at 800-895-1999.   
Indoor air quality  
  • In winter, our houses are closed tight to stay warm. Make sure that you properly ventilate with a range hood when cooking with an electric or natural gas appliance and clean the filter regularly.   
  • Make sure your appliances are regularly maintained by a qualified technician to avoid buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless – but very toxic. If you experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, ringing in the ears and lethargy, move people and pets outside and then get medical help. Because carbon monoxide is odorless, detectors can be used as a preventative measure – follow manufacturer’s recommendations for installation, use, care and replacement.    
Keep contact information updated   
  • Ensure your contact information is updated regularly within My Account so we can notify you in the event of an emergency.