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Using space heaters can pose serious hazards

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Using space heaters can pose serious hazards
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With sub-zero temperatures around the region, people are doing all they can to keep their homes warm. While portable space heaters may be an easy way to heat a room, they bring with them many dangers. Barry Wygel takes a look at some easy ways to make sure you are operating your space heater safely.

NEW YORK -- It's a scene of devastation, and fire officials believe this and about 24,000 other fires around the country are started by space heaters.

"People are trying to supplement their primary heat sources, whether it's space heaters, portable kerosene heaters," said Capt. Christopher Fay, from the Ogdensburg Fire Department.

When the temperatures reach and drop below zero, people rely more on these secondary heat sources. But there are specific instructions on how these should be used, and sometimes those instructions aren't followed.

"The end user needs to take precautions, read their directions, follow the rules," said Fay.

One of the biggest problems firefighters encounter is people putting their space heaters too close to flammable objects.

"People like to use them in bedrooms and things of that nature and they end up being too close to bedding, clothing, furniture," said Fay.

Even in these sub-zero temperatures it's important to follow all safety recommendations, especially filling kerosene heaters outside, because an accidental spill could cause a fire.

"They should be shut off, allowed to cool, and taken outside," said Fay.

Different types of heaters present different challenges, but for electric heaters, one of the most popular kinds because of their portability, it's important to remember these tips:


  • Avoid using extension cords, which may overheat

  • Always unplug when not in use

  • Allow to cool before storage

  • Use U-L listed products, that have been tested for safety.

When in doubt, be sure to look at the product's directions and safety information. Fire officials say it could save your life.

If you would like more information about home heating and safety tips for space heaters, visit NFPA.org/safety.

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