Space Heater Dangers

Published: Jan. 21, 2008 at 10:18 PM EST
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It may not seem like it, but more than one-third of all house fires nationwide occur during the winter season.

"It makes it more challenging for us to fight fires," Lt. Leann Garver of the Lansing Fire Department said. "Hose lines will freeze, we have to dig out the snow around the hydrants."

And the National Fire Protection Agency says space heaters are usually to blame.

"People just put things too close to the heaters," Garver said, "like curtains, furniture, mattresses."

Garver said it's important for someone to stay in the room with the heater. An unattended space heater is to blame for this Delhi Township fire last year.

"Don't plug it in then go to grocery store," She said. "Unplug it when you leave, then plug it back in when you get back."

"Treat a heater like an open flame," East Lansing Fire Marshall Bob Pratt said.

Pratt said common sense can mean the difference between comfort and a catastrophe.

"If you purchase a new space heater, make sure it has two important features," Pratt said. "It should have an overheat sensor and also a tip over control. So, if it tips over, it will automatically shut off."

All space heaters need just

"You need to keep a three foot buffer away from all combustibles," he said. "Three feet away from the bed, furniture, couches, etc."

If the unthinkable does happen, Pratt said make sure your family has a plan.

"So your family knows what to do in case of a fire," he said.

He says you can never be too careful.