Today's gas meters are well-made and equipped with a variety of safety features. Still, there are several precautions you should keep in mind to ensure the safety of your home and family. Know how to properly maintain your meter to avoid any health hazards or accidents.

Avoid Ice-Covered Gas Meters

It's important to keep an eye on your gas meter over the winter. You might think that any ice that forms around it is harmless, but this can actually cause serious harm.

Rising and falling temperatures lead to melting snow and ice that refreezes and creates a thick layer of ice around your meter. The ventilator can freeze over and become blocked.

This is a dangerous situation because gas needs a place to escape. The meter's ventilator provides a way out. But if it can't escape through the vent, gas can back up and make its way into the home. This presents a serious health and fire hazard.

If you have ice building up on your meter, don't take it upon yourself to remove it. Using picks or other tools to get the ice off is dangerous. Call your local gas company to have it removed by professionals.

If your meter is covered only with snow, you can safely brush it away with a broom or brush. Shovel around it to keep the area clear and easy for workers to walk through.

Have Asbestos Panelling Removed

Asbestos is a hazardous substance that has been banned as a building material, but still exists in some areas. Many older gas meters are protected by asbestos panelling. It was also used for electrical meter boxes, but not as often.

When asbestos panelling cracks or breaks, it releases fibers into the air. These fibers are trapped into the mucous membranes and can cause serious health problems. As long as the panels are free of damage, they're not releasing these harmful fibers into the air. Asbestos is most hazardous when it becomes friable, meaning that it is easily crumbles in your hand.

If you're concerned about asbestos exposure from your meter, call your local gas company to see about getting it removed professionally. Attempting to do so yourself increases your chances of exposure and can be especially dangerous to children.

Remove Obstructions

Gas meters are sturdy structures, but you should always take precautions to avoid causing any damage. It's important to keep the area around the meter and pipes free of obstacles and clutter.

Never tie a dog up to the meter or pipes. The equipment isn't designed to endure this kind of stress. Also, dogs should always be kept clear of meters; employees who come out to read the meter should be able to do so without the risk of being bitten.

Keep the area around your meter free of garden tools or other objects that tend to accumulate around the house. Never lean shovels and rakes against the meter or use it to prop up items up in any way.

If your home is being renovated, always make sure that there's sufficient access to the meter. Don't leave materials scattered around it. Obstructions make a meter reader's job difficult and can get in the way of emergency workers.

If you're planning to build a porch or deck, don't forget to plan it so that it's not blocking your gas meter. You always want to leave sufficient room around the equipment for emergency access. If construction around your home causes unavoidable obstacles to the meter, contact the gas company to let them know in advance.

Avoid or Remove Potential Hazards

Avoid keeping anything electrical near your gas meter. If electrical equipment were to create a spark, it could easily start a fire or dangerous explosion.

Don't plant trees or shrubs near your meter. They may grow to block the meter, and roots can pull up your gas lines over time. Any foliage that grows in the direction of the meter should be trimmed back so that meter readers can see it and emergency workers have access to the meter and pipes.

Always call your gas company if you plan to do any digging around your meter. This will help you to avoid any dangerous or potentially expensive consequences.

If you decide to extend your driveway or park vehicles near your gas meter, you should install yellow guard posts. This simple barricade can help you to avoid a dangerous accident.

Be Prepared for an Emergency

Prepare yourself for an emergency by learning how to shut off the gas to your meter. You should always be extra cautious. You shouldn't turn off your meter unless you know there's a leak. Even then, you must be sure that it is safe to do so. Call the gas company or emergency services before shutting off your meter. Faulty wiring or appliances could introduce electricity to the meter and cause electric shock.

Do you know what to look for to determine if you have a gas leak? It's important to use your senses to keep your family safe in case of a potential leak.

First, look for damaged connections to your meter and gas appliances. If dirt or water are being blown into the air around the gas meter connections or pipes, you should call the gas company to come out and investigate. If connections to your gas appliances are damaged or leaking, call an HVAC technician to take care of the problem.

If the plants or grass around the gas pipes are dying, this may also be a hint of a gas leak. If there's been an earthquake recently and a pipeline is exposed, you should call the gas company to have it inspected. Seek assistance also if you hear a hissing, whistling, or roaring sound near the gas pipes or appliances.

Taking steps to keep your gas meter safe and free of obstructions can help you to avoid potential accidents. Keep an eye on the surrounding area so that you will notice if anything is out of the ordinary. Don't hesitate to ask for help from your local gas company or technician if you have questions or concerns.