ST. PAUL, Minn. – The cold winter is a growing concern for Minnesotans who use propane to heat their homes as prices rise and long-term supplies are stretched. As a result of Governor Dayton’s declaration of a State of Peacetime Emergency, state agencies are ramping up efforts to respond.
The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is now partially activated to coordinate the state response. The partial activation means that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (HSEM) coordinate efforts of state agencies. HSEM is in contact with state, local and voluntary partners to coordinate any potential resource requests.
HSEM officials held a conference call today with emergency managers from all 87 Minnesota counties along with representatives from not-for-profit organizations and many state agencies. There are currently no requests for state assistance.
Governor Dayton declared a State of Peacetime Emergency in Minnesota on Monday in response to the persistent cold weather and the increased risk households may run out of heating fuel, a situation that would pose immediate threat to public safety.
What consumers and Minnesota residents can do
People who use propane to heat their homes can take several steps at this time.
- Conserve energy as much as possible. Turn down thermostats and be aware of your propane use.
- Reach out to family and friends for assistance.
- Check on your neighbors.
- Check with your local emergency management agency to find resources in your community.
- Call 9-1-1 only in a crisis
- Department of Commerce online and phone resources
- Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Use Alternative Heat Sources Safely
The State Fire Marshal (SFM) reminds residents to use caution when using alternative heating sources such as space heaters.
- Keep anything flammable -- including pets and people -- at least three feet away from heating equipment.
- Make sure portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Space heaters need constant watching. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
- Make sure all cords on electric heaters are in good shape and checked periodically for any frays or breaks in the insulation surrounding the wires.
- Check the cord and outlet occasionally for overheating; if it feels hot, discontinue use.
- Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
- Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up to date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards.
Consumers who need financial assistance to pay heating bills may find help through the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The Department of Commerce administers LIHEAP in Minnesota, which helps low income households, especially those with seniors, children, veterans and people with disabilities with their heating bill.
Money is still available for households that have not already applied.
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced today that LIHEAP Crisis payments would increase from $500 to $1,000 for applicants heating their homes with propane and heating oil. The crisis payments could be available as early as next week.
Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area; Minnesota has 32 local service providers. A list of local service providers and information on applying for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program is available by visiting the Energy Assistance section of the Division of Energy Resources website
or by calling 1-800-657-3710.