Staying Safe with Space Heaters

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Staying warm -- for millions of Americans, that includes using extra space heaters in the dead of winter.

The CPSC estimates more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in 300 deaths and roughly 6,000 injuries.

Laura Jones lives in Huntington's Guyandotte community. When it's this cold outside, her family pulls out all the stops to stay warm. She has blankets hanging over doorways to isolate rooms in the house. She also has plastic on the windows and space heaters in several rooms.

"I'm scared to death of fire," Jones said. "I know how important it is to keep everything 3 feet away from the heater, and if it actually falls over. I have the kind that automatically kick off."

When buying and installing a small space heater, the CPSC recommends following these guidelines:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.

  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.

  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.

  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.

  • For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline. Follow the manufacturer's fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater -- you must allow for the expansion of the liquid. Only use approved containers clearly marked for that particular fuel and store them outdoors.

  • Have vented space heaters professionally inspected every year. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all -- or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded -- dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can enter the home, causing sickness and death. CO also can be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and the altitude at which it is installed.

  • Also, be sure to place smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Guard against carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings, as well, by installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home.

"It is what is it," Jones said. "We all have to try to save a little money in this economy, but we also have to try and stay warm."


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