Local News

Kerosene, Space Heaters Can Be Dangerous If Not Used Properly

Posted January 24, 2003

— Cold weather is sending a lot of people in search of other sources of heat such as kerosene heaters and space heaters, but they can be dangerous if they are not used properly.

Shirley Best, a Mount Olive resident, said her kerosene heater has been keeping her house warm.

"Without it, it would be real cold, real cold," she said.

Best said she follows the heater instructions to the letter and keeps it in the middle of the room. Even then, she admits it can be a little unsettling.

"My little grandson loves to jump around and I just keep him in check and make sure everything is OK because they're very dangerous," she said.

The Best family has quite a reminder of the danger associated with a heater. A house across her street burned years ago. Fire officials said an auxiliary heat source was to blame.

A few weeks ago in Kinston, two young girls died when their grandmother used a hot plate to warm the room. Just this week, an elderly Cabarrus County woman died trying to heat her house.

"The most common is having the kerosene heater or space heater too close to combustibles such as the furniture. A lot of people put them in the bedroom to heat the bedroom up. They have it too close to the bed," said Bryan Taylor, of Wayne County Emergency Services.

Mt. Olive firefighters said the number of fires due to kerosene heaters is down in recent years. They cite a federal grant that has helped many people in low-income housing install central heat instead.

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