How to keep warm and safe while using space heaters

Published 7:28 pm Sunday, January 2, 2022

With winter now upon South Mississippi, soon the weather will turn colder, and for some that means the use of portable space heaters to stay warm.

According to Consumer Reports, about 25,000 house fires and 300 deaths are attributed to space heaters each year. Most of those fires occur when a heater is operated in close proximity to curtains, beddings and furniture that is made of upholstery.

Tips to ensure a heater does not spark a fire in a home include placing the heater on a hard, level surface that is nonflammable and on the floor. Portable heaters should be placed at least three-feet away from flammable objects including walls, curtains, beddings and furniture and in an area where it can’t be knocked over by children or pet activities.

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Such heaters should not be used in a child’s room and should be turned off when leaving the room or going to bed. Avoid plugging the heater into an extension cord and  ensure that the heater is the only thing plugged into the outlet. Plugging more than one device into an outlet used by the heater will cause a short or overheating of the outlet.

When shopping for a portable heater, the National Fire Protection Association suggests looking for a device with the seal that it has been tested by a qualified laboratory, choose a heater with a thermostat and overheating protection and look for devices that offer an auto shut off feature should the heater be overturned.

“Space heaters should always be attended when in use and away from any objects inside the house. And make sure they are in the condition they were in they were purchased and have not been altered at all,” said Poplarville Fire Chief Jason Bannister.