Energy company explains how to stay safe during extreme cold

Alliant Energy says it’s able to handle demand for increased heat from the cold, and advises residents on what they can do to further remain warm during this bitter cold spell.

Check furnace and water heater vents and keep them clear to prevent equipment malfunction or carbon monoxide buildup. They may become blocked due to condensation buildup. Also check your gas meter vents to ensure they aren’t blocked by snow.

If space heaters are used, make sure they are properly vented and placed at least three feet away from other objects. Turn them off when sleeping or when you leave the area.

When using a wood-burning stove or fireplace, be sure to use a sturdy fireplace screen.

Keep heating equipment in good working order.

Don’t warm up vehicles in a garage because this will cause carbon monoxide to gather in your home.

Have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of a home and test batteries to make sure they are working. Detectors are the only way to spot CO, which is a deadly, odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It requires medical treatment if a person breathes it. Lethargy and confusion are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and it eventually leads to unconsciousness and death if the person remains in the CO-infested home.

If carbon monoxide detectors go off, leave the home immediately. Fire personnel and utility staff can check the dwelling to ensure it’s safe to return. If anyone shows signs of CO poisoning, take them to the ER or call 911.

Don’t use portable generators in a home or closed garage.

Never use a cooking stove or grill, either gas or charcoal, to provide heat in a home.

If you see a downed power line, call 800-255-4268 to report it. Don’t approach the line.