Space heaters to blame in many fatal home fires
As temperatures drop, families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes. While space heaters are good sources of warmth, they can be dangerous.
Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually, according to local fire officials.
Home heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in Alabama, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires, such as placing a space heater too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress or bedding.
The Russellville Fire Department offers the following safety tips.
- Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
- Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
- Choose models that have automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally.
- Place space heater on solid, flat surface.
- Never use an extension cord with a portable heater.
- Check the cord before plugging in the heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use. Instead, have an electrician replace the cord or replace the heater. Remember: simply putting tape on the cord is not enough to prevent overheating and fire.
- Keep portable electric heaters away from sinks, tubs and other wet or damp places to avoid deadly electric shocks.