Winter Safety Tips

Use energy safely this winter

It’s important to keep safety in mind when you use natural gas and electricity. Here are some ways to stay safe and warm at home when it’s chilly outside.

Gas safety

  • Have gas appliances such as the furnace and water heater checked at least once a year by a licensed heating or plumbing contractor or SDG&E.
  • Periodically check your gas appliances by making sure pilot lights and burner flames are blue. Small flecks of orange are normal, but a yellow, large and unsteady flame can be a sign of carbon monoxide (except in decorative logs with gas flames).
  • Check for significant buildup of soot in your furnace and other gas appliances, since this is another sign of incomplete combustion. If your heater has a yellow pilot light flame and/or significant buildup of soot, shut it off and call a licensed heating or plumbing contractor or SDG&E.
  • Don’t store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal airflow.
  • When using your gas fireplace, make sure the fireplace/chimney damper is completely open.
  • Never use your gas oven, range or barbecue to heat your home.

Electric safety

  • Portable heaters, electric blankets and other heat-producing devices shouldn’t be used with extension cords. Plug them directly into the wall and unplug them before leaving the house. Such devices can overload extension cords and possibly cause electrical fires.
  • Keep your portable heater at a safe distance from furniture, blankets, draperies and other objects that could catch fire. Never hang clothes to dry on or near your heater or heating vent.
  • Keep insulation away from all heat sources, furnaces, water heaters, recessed light fixtures, fan motors, doorbell transformers, chimneys, flues and vents.
  • Don’t overload electric circuits. You can reduce the risk of fire by using low-wattage appliances and by not plugging more than two appliances into any outlet.
  • Use only power strips and transient voltage surge suppressors that have been tested and listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. Look for the testing lab’s certification mark, such as UL or CSA, on the device.
  • If you use holiday lighting, purchase only lights with the certification mark of a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, such as the UL or CSA mark.