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NorthWestern Reminds Customers to Take Safety Steps

Dec 02, 2016

Butte, Mont. – Dec. 2, 2016 – A significant wave of snow and cold weather is expected to affect a large swath of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska in the coming days and NorthWestern Energy is reminding customers of important safety measures.

Electric Customers:

Use caution around electric lines that are sagging or downed. Never attempt to touch or move a low-hanging wire as lines may still be energized even if they are on the ground. Contact NorthWestern Energy to report sagging or downed lines.

In Montana, customers should call (888) 467-2669. In South Dakota and Nebraska, customers should call (800) 245-6977.

Natural Gas Customers:
Heavy wet, blowing snow can block heating and appliance exhaust vents, which can cause equipment to malfunction resulting in a loss of heat or a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide in the structure.

Outdoor natural gas meters and equipment are designed to withstand winter weather conditions. However, heavy build-up of snow or ice, icicles falling from building eaves, or water dripping from a roof and freezing on a natural gas meter or appliance vent, may disrupt the flow of natural gas or create a potentially dangerous situation inside the structure.

If your home has an outside natural gas meter, check it for accumulation of ice or snow. Look for your natural gas appliance vents – which often are on the roof – to ensure they are clear of snow. Also remember that clearing snow and ice from meters or vents needs to be done carefully and gently to avoid damaging the equipment.

If at any time if you smell a strong and persistent odor similar to rotten eggs, leave your home immediately and avoid using any electric appliances such as light switches, garage door openers and phones—including a cell phone. When you are at a safe distance away, call NorthWestern Energy or 9-1-1 to report the concern. Stay away from the building until someone from the utility or a first responder tells you it's safe.

Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide is odorless and may be present when a fuel is not burned completely due to inadequate combustion or when exhaust vents become clogged. Carbon monoxide symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide may be present, seek fresh air immediately and call NorthWestern Energy.

Other safety reminders include:

  • Ensure your natural gas meter is visible at all times and accessible for maintenance and emergency responders.
  • Avoid using a snow blower near a meter to keep from burying the meter with snow.
  • Gently remove the snow or ice around the meter with your hands or use a broom to brush it away.
  • Never kick or hit your natural gas meter or its piping with a hammer or other hard object in order to dislodge snow or ice.
  • Keep natural gas vents clear, unobstructed and free of debris. Some direct-vent and high-efficiency appliances have direct side wall outdoor vents and air intakes that could become obstructed during heavy snowfall. Other vents may be on the roof.
  • If you have a seasonal property or are away on vacation, ask someone to check your natural gas meters and vents—especially after a significant storm. A covered meter, in addition to being potentially dangerous, can disrupt service leading to loss of heat to the structure.

In Montana, customers should call (888) 467-2669. In South Dakota and Nebraska, customers should call (800) 245-6977.

About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)

NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 701,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at

Montana Media Contact:                                                            South Dakota/Nebraska Media Contact
Butch Larcombe                                                                            Tom Glanzer
(866) 622-8081                                                                              (877) 410-0154                                 

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