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Funding assistance available to help with rising propane cost
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MONROE - Green County Emergency Management in conjunction with the Green County Human Services and Health Department are asking Green County residents affected by the rising propane cost to contact Green County Human Services Economic Support office to see if they are eligible for funding assistance.

Residents can contact the office at 608-328-9344 and after hours at 608-328-9393. The number should also be called if furnaces are inoperable. The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program should not be called if individuals are told to call Emergency Management and the department cannot provide energy assistance. By calling Green County Human Services, individuals will be connected with an Economic Support Specialist.

There are energy programs to provide payment assistance to households for home heating and electric costs, energy crisis situations, emergency furnace repairs and replacements, payment plans for those who are behind in heating and/or electric costs, referrals to home weatherization and other programs for qualifying residents. Since the State of Emergency has been declared for the propane shortage, there has been an increase in the income limit for propane households from 60 percent of State Median Income to 80 percent SMI, in addition to extra emergency benefit allotments.

People who had previously applied for energy assistance and were denied can contact Green County Economic Support again since income limits have been adjusted to provide more aid to those who heat with propane. If you think you may be over income but have been strapped financially by medical bills or other unexpected bills please call them as there are other programs and organizations that may be able to help you.

Emergency Management is encouraging residents to help by doing the following:

• Make reasonable adjustments on your thermostat, especially during times your home is unoccupied. Close vents in unused rooms, and heat only essential living space to conserve the propane you have.

• Frequently check on your neighbors, especially the sick, disabled or frail elderly.

• Call your propane company for delivery of fuel if your tank is 30 percent full, or less, but don't wait to call if you are nearly out of fuel. Local suppliers are very concerned about their clients too, so call them before you are out so something can be worked out if you don't have the money to fill your tank. Many fuel providers will charge an after-hours charge to deliver fuel so watch your tank and have fuel delivered during their regular daytime delivery hours. Waiting until you are out of fuel will only make matters worse and may lead to pipes freezing in your home and causing damages. If you are under a contract that locked in your price, your contract must be honored.

• If your furnace goes out and you have to leave your home make sure you drain the water from the pipes so they don't freeze and burst. Shut off the water; then drain the water supply by opening a faucet at the lowest point in the house; and put antifreeze in the toilet bowl and traps under the sink and tub (and other places from which water can't easily be drained, but keep it away from pipes that carry drinking water.)

• Utilize alternative heat sources such as wood or pellet stoves. Electric space heaters are also an option, but be careful to monitor their usage; if they tip over or are too close to combustible materials, they can be a serious fire hazard.

With the use of alternate heat sources, there is an increased risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember that any system that burns fuel will produce carbon monoxide. Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or an unventilated garage. Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside. Generators must be run from a safe distance from the home and never run them in the home, garage or right next to windows or doors. Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu and include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea /vomiting and confusion. If you or someone you know experience any of this symptoms or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, get outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.