According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 40% of home heating fires and 84 percent of home heating fire deaths involve space heaters. Additionally, half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February. Buying a safe space heater is only half the battle, using it safely is the other half. Below are a few Do’s and Don’ts to improve fire safety:
- Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have the most up-to-date safety features. Older space heaters may not meet newer safety standards.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
- Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor.
- Always plug the space heater directly into the wall outlet.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Turn the heater off if you leave the area.
- Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep.
- Don’t place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
- Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater, as even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of fire.
- Never plug a space heater into a power strip or extension cord.
- Don’t use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space unless they are specifically designed for indoor use.
Dorchester County Fire Chief, Tres Atkinson, reminds citizens that “space heater safety is not just a residential concern. Portable electric space heaters are also used in workplaces and can pose a major workplace safety hazard.” Atkinson added “space heaters are small, but they draw an immense amount of electricity. If a space heater is being used, it should always be plugged directly into the wall. Extension cords are problematic when it comes to space heaters, as many extension cords can't handle the high level of electricity.”
Citizens are also reminded to ensure they have, working, lifesaving smoke alarms in their residence. All Dorchester County residents can request a smoke alarm be installed in their home by completing the online request form and/or by contacting Dorchester County Fire Rescue at (843) 563-0214.
Note: Residents who live in the municipal limits of the City of North Charleston or the Town of Summerville should contact their respective departments, who operate similar programs.