The Dangers of Space Heaters

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KOSCIUSKO, Miss.–A fire took out a home in Walnut Grove Tuesday and an electric heater was a factor, according to preliminary reports on the cause. Fires like that are preventable, if you avoid using a space heater or use caution if you must.

“Space heaters are convenient. But, the data shows they’re involved in more than a thousand house fires every year,” said Kosciusko Fire Chief Duane Burdine. “The National Fire Protection Assoc. would probably put that in even starker (sic) context, noting that space heaters factor into about 46 percent of home heating-related fires.”

But, 81 percent of fire deaths from home heating come from space heaters, said the chief.

INTERVIEW With Chief Burdine

“Home heating with space heaters is mobile,” he said, meaning the heaters can be moved around a room, unlike a fireplace or other permanent forms of heating.

That means you can easily get it too close to curtains or boxes or fabric.

“You’ve got to keep ’em three feet away from anything,” said Burdine. “You can’t plug ’em into power strips. You can’t plug ’em into extension cords. You want to make sure, and this is a big one, that you turn them off when you go to bed.”

Burdine said most of the new ones have a safety feature that turns them off if they turn over. Still some of the old ones don’t.

“Even so you’re dealing with the factor of them being too close to something, and being on and leaving the room and leaving home and you never want to do that.”