Hidden Home Fire Hazards

Space heaters can be dangerous if proper safety measures aren't taken

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Now that November is here, one thing has been instantly noticeable to San Diegans: It’s cold.

    Nights are dipping into chillier territory, with temperatures dropping into the 40s. To stay warm, many people turn to space heaters or home fireplaces. But there are a few risks associated with personal heating devices, including fire danger.

    The San Diego Fire Department states that December, January and February are generally the deadliest months for fires. Roughly half of all home heating fires occurred between those three months in 2008, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. The dry winter air in California also presents a hazard as the spread of fire could become rapid.

    Fortunately there are a few ways to ensure fire safety during the winter months.

    “Make sure [the space heater] is three feet away from any furniture, curtains or anything that can burn,” said Lorraine Carli, the vice president of communication for NFPA.

    Carli suggested that space heaters also need to be three feet away from the bed, as sheets are a flammable item people often forget about.

    Got an older heating device? It might be time to upgrade.

    “Look for one that has been tested by an authorized testing lab,” said Carli. “Newer ones have important safety features, including automatic switches.”

    Outdated space heaters often have wider spaces between the wires, which can be hazardous to small children or animals.

    SDFD encourages people to follow a few additional guidelines before plugging in heating devices:
    •    Turn space heaters off before falling asleep
    •    Electric-powered heaters need to be plugged into an outlet with sufficient space
    •    Don’t leave heaters unattended in a room

    For more tips on how to safely use heating devices, visit the SDFD Home Heating Safety Guide.