As a kid growing up in Wyoming, being exposed to power outages was just part of a normal winter. You lose power, it takes a while to come back on, you bundle up in the meantime. It was an opportunity to get a fire going in the fireplace and get nice and cozy. However, many apartment dwellers in Montana cities like Missoula don't have fireplaces and rely on central heat to stay warm in the winter months. And when the power goes out, bad ideas can turn into disasters.

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Dan Rogers, an Energy Specialist with Missoula Electric Cooperative, understands the desire to stay warm at any cost, but warns Montanans about giving in to a potentially disastrous temptation: bringing your propane or gas grills inside during power outages. He spoke to why it's never a good idea:

Well obviously the first risk is carbon monoxide poisoning. They call it "the silent killer" because you can't smell [it] and so it's almost impossible to detect. The other risk that doubles the problem is having a standing flame open in your house where something could get knocked over and start a larger problem.

Rogers also served up a reminder to test smoke alarms, which if there is an errant fire in your home could save your life:


They don't last forever. They need to be replaced at least every ten years and the batteries need to be checked frequently. The best way to check it is with smoke. There is a button to test it but if you really want to know if it's going to work when there's smoke in the house, you need to light a match and extinguish it underneath one of them so you get some smoke up there to verify that it's working.

Again, those batteries don't last for very long, they recommend replacing them annually even though they'll probably last a little bit longer, but it's just a good idea to make sure you keep testing them.

Rogers also iterated MEC's commitment to providing excellent service to their customers, which includes addressing power outages quickly and efficiently. If you have a gas or propane grill, LEAVE IT OUTSIDE.

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