Butte, Mont. - Dec. 28, 2012 -With the arrival of winter weather, NorthWestern Energy is reminding customers of the importance of the safe use of portable heating devices.
In recent days, there have been a several incidents of fires sparked by the improper use of plug-in electric heaters in both residential and commercial settings in NorthWestern's service territory. In almost all cases, customers overloaded circuits and increased the risk of electrical fire danger.
While portable heaters can safely provide additional heat, improper use can result in fires, electric shock or carbon monoxide poisoning. NorthWestern Energy offers these important tips on heater use:
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the safe and efficient use of your heater.
Avoid plugging space heaters into outlets that could overload an electrical circuit.
Use only heavy-duty extension cords rated for the heater's amperage.
Fix or replace frayed or exposed wiring on electric heaters.
Keep the heater away from curtains, bedspreads or anything that could catch fire.
Keep electric space heaters away from bathtubs, showers and sinks.
Make certain heaters are stable and can't tip over easily.
Keep small children and pets away from portable heaters.
Avoid using heaters indoors that are fueled by kerosene, natural gas, propane or wood without proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Ensure such heaters have an adequate oxygen supply and properly vented to the outdoors. Always consider ventilation requirements any time you use additional heating sources. Strongly consider installing a carbon monoxide alarm near the fuel-burning appliance.
Some heaters, if not properly vented, can be the source of dangerous carbon monoxide. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide might be present, seek fresh air immediately and call NorthWestern Energy. Montana customers can call (888) 467-2669.South Dakota and Nebraska customers can call (800) 245-6977.