Local News

Using Space Heaters Safely Saves Lives

Posted January 6, 1999

— As the temperature continues to drop, many people are using portable heaters to stay warm. But these heaters can do more than chase away the chill on a cold night. Used incorrectly, they can spark a fire.

Investigators say a portable space heater igniteda house fire on New Year's Evethat killed a Durham woman.

And on New Year's Day,17-year-old Kenny Ray Brown diedwhen flames raced through his home in Orange County. Investigators there suspect the fire started near an electric heater.

Here are some tips to help you use space heaters safely:

  • Experts say you should never leave a space heater near anything that could catch fire, including curtains, bedspreads, sofas, and papers.
  • There should be appropriate clearance around the heater.
  • The heater should not be placed in a walkway where it could be kicked over or knocked over.

    Look for new models that will shut down automatically if they are knocked over.

    Ceramic heaters that don't have an exposed element can also be a safer choice.

    Heaters that run on kerosene and other types of fuel can be particularly dangerous, according to Tommie Ann Styons of theRaleigh Fire Department.

    "They need to be particularly cautious about using the proper fuel and having the fuel stored in a proper type of container. Filling them can be very dangerous. The heater should be cool," Styons says.

    It's a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector if you're using a heat source that's powered by any type of fuel.

    And of course all homes should have a smoke detector. Make sure yours has fresh batteries.

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