Alliant Energy: Protect Yourself From Winter Home Heating Hazards

Contact: Karmen Wilhelm (319) 786-7788

Alliant Energy encourages customers to make safe choices, seek assistance
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Dec. 21, 2004 – When temperatures drop, many families turn to alternative heating sources out of necessity or to avoid the rising cost of utility bills. Alliant Energy encourages families to stay safe this heating season and seek financial assistance if necessary.

“Customer and employee safety is one of our core values,” said Diana Quinn, manager of Health and Safety Services with Alliant Energy. ‘We don’t want anyone taking unnecessary risks. If a customer is struggling to pay a natural gas or electric bill, we want them to contact us as soon as possible so we can discuss payment arrangements and assistance options.”

According to Quinn, the most important rule about home heating safety is never use a gas stove or oven for space heating. “Using a natural gas, propane or oil-fired appliance improperly can deplete oxygen from a room, causing asphyxiation, or produce deadly carbon monoxide,” explained Quinn.

These life-threatening circumstances can occur suddenly, with few or no warning signs or symptoms. Instead of heating your home with dangerous methods, it’s best to layer yourself with extra sweaters, socks and blankets.

“Even standard heating methods aren’t fool proof,” said Quinn. “Operating a fireplace in an enclosed room can also cause carbon monoxide problems. If you use a wood-burning device, crack open a window on the opposite side of the room to allow for adequate air replacement.”

Quinn also cautions people against using candles, Sterno fuel, portable fire pits and space heaters to heat their apartment or home. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four out of seven home fires occur during the coldest months of December, January and February. About half of these fires are caused by using candles or overloading electrical circuits.

Other recommended safety tips include:

· Properly installing and maintaining smoke detectors.

· Having furnaces and fireplaces inspected and cleaned before each heating season.

· Adhering to the following safety recommendations when using electric space heaters:

– Never leave children unattended in a room or home with a space heater.

– Keep all combustible materials and yourself at least three feet away from heaters.

– Open-faced heaters should have a proper screen and grate in place.

– Do not overload electrical circuits, and never use an extension cord.

– If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it.

– Remove lint and dust from heaters regularly. Lint and dust can burn.

Alliant Energy is an energy-services provider that serves more than three million customers worldwide. Providing its customers in the Midwest with regulated electricity and natural gas service remains the company’s primary focus. Other key business platforms include the international energy market and non-regulated domestic generation. Alliant Energy is a Fortune 1000 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol LNT. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at