Portable heaters can be useful, but also hazardous if not used correctly

Originally published on WTVY

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) – Our area has been experiencing colder weather over the last few weeks and to help stay warm some may turn to portable electric heaters. While useful, portable heaters can also be hazardous if not used correctly.

Brandon Hovey, Slocomb Fire-Rescue Operations Chief, said historically, house fire numbers go up this time of year.

“That’s the number one starter of home fires this time of year when it gets cold is those space heaters and we especially don’t want people to start a fire in their home when they’re asleep,” Chief Hovey said.

People are facing the colder months and trying to stay warm, but not taking the precautions needed for their portable electric heaters.

“You want to keep the area around those space heaters clear of any clutter or materials in your home such as curtains, furniture, don’t leave it close to your bed or the mattress,” Chief Hovey said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises for the front, sides, and back of a portable heater to be at least three feet away from potentially flammable objects. They do not need to be on a carpet surface, it needs to sit on a stable surface so it does not get knocked over.

Do not plug your space heater into an extension cord or power strip, be sure to plug it into a wall outlet to avoid overheating.

“When you plug a space heater into that, it pulls a lot of power from that and can overload that power strip very quickly and heat it up,” Chief Hovey said. “Especially while you’re asleep and you’re not always alert.”

Do not run the heaters cord under a rug and if the cord is hot turn it off and unplug it. It will need to be inspected and repaired professionally.

“Just be smart and keep your heat elements, any type of object that produces heat away from anything flammable, and also make sure that your smoke detectors are working and have good batteries because those could save your life,” Chief Hovey said.

According to the CPSC space heaters should not be left on while you are not home or if you are sleeping.

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