Posted: Dec 28, 2012 7:43 PM by MTN News - Billings
BILLINGS-Now that winter weather is in full effect, the use of portable heaters is on the rise. While these heaters are efficient and economical, caution should be taken during use. Since winter began, NorthWestern Energy says several fires have started by the improper use of electric heaters. In most of the cases, customers overloaded circuits and increased the risk of electrical fire danger.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is also possible when using heaters powered by kerosene or propane. "It's real important for those stoves to be vented properly. Every winter we hear reports of people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty appliances and it's just real important for people to be aware of that," said NorthWestern Energy spokesperson Butch Larcombe.
NorthWestern Energy offers these 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 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)245-6977 with any questions.