Space Heaters Keep You Warm, but Can be Fire Hazard

With 20 degree temperatures everyone is trying to stay warm.  For some, that means plugging in a space heather.  Although it can keep you warm it can also be a fire hazard.

The United States Fire Administration reports that during the months of January and February portable heaters are used more than ever.  Though, they only account for 10 percent of all heating fires, 30 to 40 percent of those fires result in injury or death.

It doesn't happen that often but when it does, it's deadly.

"People are constantly amazed at how fast it happens," said Captain Tim Pierson with the Wichita Falls Fire Department.

A fire that happened back in February is proof.  A portable heater used to keep pipes warm sparked a blaze that burned the entire home.

"Once it gets to that phase where it actually has started and the growth process is going on, it's a pretty quick process," said Pierson.

It annually results in more than 100 deaths a year.

"The power source they are plugged into, if people plug them into extension cords, extension cords heat up and can create fires."

The cords aren't made to handle that much electricity, just plug it straight into an outlet.  Another way to keep safe is to simply give a space heater, space.

"If you're using anything that's creating heat keep combustibles away from those
and again don't leave them unattended," he said.

Heaters that are left alone can easily tip over, just like an example Capt. Pierson showed us, but instead of a hand that is tipping it over, that's a cat or a blanket.  The heater you were using to shield yourself from the cold is now a hazard to your safety, but it can be easily prevented.

"You don't need to leave them unattended."

As far as the gas burning heaters go, Pierson doesn't suggest ever using those.  Not only are they open flamed but they can create carbon monoxide poisoning.

On average portable heaters result in about $70 million in property damage each year.