Clear a path for mail, gas meters

With winter weather officially under way, one seasonal tool is expected to make its return at homes and businesses – the snow shovel.

To help letter carriers deliver mail, the Postal Service is asking customers to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, stairs and mailboxes.

“Snow and ice make delivery dangerous and slow,” said Iron Mountain Postmaster Michael Johnson. “Maintaining a clear path to the mail box – including steps, porches, walkways and street approach – will help letter carriers maintain consistent delivery service.”

Residents receiving door delivery should make sure their sidewalks, steps and porches are clear.

Residents receiving curbside delivery should remove snow piles left by snow plows to keep access to their mailboxes clear for letter carriers.

Delivery service may be delayed or curtailed whenever streets or walkways present hazardous conditions for letter carriers or when snow is plowed against mailboxes.

“The Postal Service curtails delivery only after careful consideration, and only as a last resort,” said Johnson. “Any curtailed mail is attempted the next delivery day.”

Blue collection boxes also need to be kept clear for our customers to deposit their mail and for the Postal Service to collect the mail for delivery.

Residents and businesses with collection boxes near their property are asked to keep them clear of snow and ice.

“We want our letter carriers to be safe,” adds Johnson. “We can only do this with the help of our customers.”

Additionally, We Energies is reminding customers to avoid the dangers of snow and ice buildup on exhaust vents and natural gas meters. These areas often are overlooked when buried under several inches of snow.

Snow and ice accumulation on furnace vents can lead to potentially deadly carbon monoxide levels in homes.

Accumulated snow and ice also can damage natural gas meters, which could lead to potentially dangerous gas leaks.

Keeping meters clear also allows We Energies employees to properly service meters in case of emergencies.

To avoid problems:

– Use a broom to gently brush snow off the meter.

– Avoid kicking or hitting the meter to break away built-up snow or ice.

– Always shovel away from the meter.

– Take care when using a snow thrower or plow near the meter.

Any customer who smells a natural gas odor should leave the house immediately

and call the We Energies gas emergency number at 1-800-261-5325 from a nearby


We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and

the Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in


Area residents are also reminded that shoveling snow has its risks.

“One of the reasons heart attacks can occur during snow shoveling is the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion which increases the workload on the heart,” said Dr. Vishal Gupta, MD, MPH, Borgess Cardiology Group, of the Borgess Heart Institute, Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo. “As a result, too much strain on the heart during these conditions can cause a heart attack.”

To help make snow removal safer, the American Heart Association offers the following tips:

– Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition or don’t exercise on a regular basis, schedule a meeting with your doctor prior to the first anticipated snowfall.

– Take frequent breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart.

– Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling since it can place an extra load on your heart.

– Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.

– Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. Wear a hat and dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation.

– Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. Lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.

– Listen to your body. If you feel the warning signs for heart attack, stop what you’re doing immediately and call 9-1-1.

The warning signs of a heart attack include:

– Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck and arms. Chest discomfort with lightheadness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

For more information, call the American Heart Association at 1-800-968-1040.