Firefighters Remind People of Space Heater Safety Measures

By: Christy Henry
By: Christy Henry

Winter is drawing near and temperatures are dropping across the country.

But before you pull out those portable heaters to keep warm, there are some safety measures you'll want to take.

As Christy Henry reports, your life may depend on it.

It's a scene firefighters say is all too common this time of year. A space heater being used to keep a home warm, set too close to flammable material.

Within seconds, smoke. A short time later, flames. What happens next often turns deadly.

"We had a gentleman die. He had extension cords leading up to his space heater and the extension cords melted into one big ball and became the ignition source," said Dennis Rubin, fire chief in
Washington D.C.

In 2005, firefighters nationwide responded to more than 62-thousand structure fires that involved heating equipment. Nearly 700 of them were deadly. 73-percent of the deaths caused by improperly used space heaters.

"They go to sleep with the space heater running so if a blanket falls off the bed and the fire starts, the consumer doesn't stand a chance," said Nancy Nord, of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

But there are ways to protect yourself and your family.

Always place your space heater on a non-flammable surface and keep it at least three feet away from all combustibles.

Make sure someone is home while the heater is running and be sure to turn it off when you go to sleep.

And if your heater is more than a few years old, replace it with a more modern version.

Many models have automatic shut-off if they tip over. And fire officials say there are two things no home should be without.

"Please have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector," explained Rubin.

Simple advice that could save your life this winter.

Fire officials say space heaters are not the only concern.

They warn you should also take precautions when using your fireplace or a portable generator. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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