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NorthWestern Offers Winter Heating Safety Reminder and Tips

Dec 16, 2015

Butte, Mont. – Dec. 16, 2015 – Winter is here and NorthWestern Energy is offering reminders about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of winter heating safety.

The dangers are real. Around the recent Thanksgiving holiday, a Havre customer was saved from serious consequences after a carbon monoxide detector showed dangerously high readings in her home. In 2014, three members of a Helena family were hospitalized after furnace vents plugged by snow caused a heavy build-up of carbon monoxide in their basement. Two family pets succumbed to the poisonous gas.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that may be poisonous when a fuel is not burned completely. Any fuel – wood, coal, oil, propane and kerosene, can produce carbon monoxide. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can resemble the flu and include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion, tightening of the chest, unusual yawning or irritation of the nose, mouth or eyes.

To guard against carbon-monoxide issues, consider the following steps:

  • Purchase a UL-approved, digital carbon monoxide alarm with AC power and battery backup.
  • NorthWestern urges its customers to get annual inspections of gas-burning furnaces and appliances, including water heaters.
  • Make sure all vents for furnaces and other appliances, on the roof or side of a structure,  are unobstructed. Such vents can become clogged by heavy snow, ice or objects such as bird nests.
  • Use portable space heaters properly and follow manufacturers’ instructions.

If you detect or suspect carbon monoxide in your home, get the victims to fresh air immediately and call 911 from outside the home or building. NorthWestern Energy will inspect the homes of natural-gas customers. Our gas service employees carry carbon monoxide detectors and know what to look for.

If you detect gas odors, usually a rotten-egg smell, leave the structure immediately. Do not use a phone or light switch, as this could trigger an explosion. Call NorthWestern and 911 from a safe location.

Montana customers should call: (888) 467-2669

South Dakota and Nebraska customers should call: (800) 245-6977

Customers with questions about natural-gas safety or any aspect of their service can contact NorthWestern Energy at (888) 467-2669.

About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 692,600 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.  More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at

Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081

South Dakota and Nebraska Media Contact
Tom Glanzer
(877) 410-0154

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