Tips on how to use a space heater safely this winter season

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With the winter season in full swing, you might decide to break out your space heater to help keep warm. But misusing them could result in a fire.

If you plan on using a space heater to stay warm, the Syracuse Fire Department recommends you don’t. But if you have to, there are some things you need to know.

“Never leave them unattended. If you use one, the minute you leave the room, turn it off. Don’t run them while you are asleep,” says Deputy Chief John Kane, Syracuse Fire Department.

Always put your space heater on a flat surface and at least three feet away from anything flammable like paper or a pile of laundry. Deputy Chief Kane says never to plug them into an extension cord.

“Make sure that it’s a modern space heater, meaning that it has a sensor in it. So that if it accidentally tips over, it shuts off automatically. Keep pets and children away from it,” says Kane.

Kane says that this time of year, many departments respond to fires involving home heating equipment, and portable space heaters are a big part of that.

“Nationwide, there’s about 2,000 structure fires every year because of space heaters, and a notable percentage of those are fatal,” says Kane.

Last weekend, 17 people, including 8 children, died after a fire broke out at a Bronx apartment. The fire was caused by a malfunctioning electric space heater. Malfunction signs are also something to look out for.

“Any type of unusual odor, if it smells like it’s burning or producing any kind of smoke, obviously stop using it. If it seems to shut off periodically for no reason like there’s some type of internal malfunction, stop using it,” says Kane.

Kane says always to check your smoke detectors and make sure they’re up to date and working.

Click here for more safety tips.

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