“They aren’t meant for that,” State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk cautioned. “Don’t just hope it’s going to be OK.”
He said most of the fire-related deaths this year have been from space heaters, whether they malfunction, flammable materials are left too close to them or they are used in a way they were not intended. He urged residents to bundle up to sleep rather than using s space heater that was not intended to be used for long periods of time.
Paulk said that combustible materials placed too close to space heaters have been the cause of several fires, but also having those materials near an improper alternate heat source, such as an oven, which is not intended to heat a home.
In addition to caution with space heaters, Jasper Fire and Rescue Capt. Alan Clark urges residents to be vigilant about their smoke detectors and ensure they are up and in working order.
“Ten dollars for a smoke detector is well worth it if it saves your life,” Clark said.
Tips for heater safety:
•Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally-recognized laboratory.
•Ensure it has a thermostat control, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
•Do not dry or warm clothing or other items on top of the heater.
•Keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater.
•Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.
•Turn off at night or whenever you sleep.
•Never use an extension cord with space heaters — plug directly into wall socket.