Officials warn of improper usage of space heaters

Blackstone Valley

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Heading into the colder months we are reminding you about the dangers of improperly heating your home, specifically, space heaters.

That is why Central Falls Battalion Chief Michael Bessette spoke to Eyewitness News about fire safety during the winter months.

“Any fire can be devastating and can go as far as casualties,” said Battalion Chief Bessette.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes.

“Space heaters can be effective tools for providing added warmth at home, but it’s critical that people follow basic precautions to ensure that they’re used safely,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division.

A study looking at years 2011-2015 showed 43% of home heating fires were caused by space heaters and 85% of home heating fire deaths.

“Space heaters aren’t meant to heat a whole apartment,” he said. In fact, they should only be a supplementary source of heat.

Battalion Chief Bassette says Eyewitness News if you are using a space heater, you should have at least a 4-foot clearance.

“If there is something too close to it [the space heater] that [object] may catch fire,” he said.

The Battalion Chief went on to say, “they might buy a number of them [space heaters] and overheat the circuit — and that could cause a fire,” he said.

Now is the time to review your emergency plan in the event of a fire.

“In the city, it’s mostly apartments — three-deckers — four-deckers. People don’t always know a second route out especially when they are on the third floor,” said Bessette.

It’s important to have a conversation with your children. That way if a fire occurs when an adult isn’t home, they can evacuate the building safely.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has additional tips for space heater safety, including:

  • Never leave the heater operating while unattended, or while you are sleeping.
  • Never power the heater with an extension cord or power strip.
  • Check frequently to determine if the heater plug, cord, wall outlet, or faceplate is hot. If so, turn it off and have a qualified electrician inspect.
  • Ensure that the heater is placed on a stable, level surface and located where it will not be knocked over.
  • Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged. Before use, inspect the heater, cord, and plug for damage.
  • Never run the heater’s cord under rugs or carpeting. This can damage the cord, causing it and nearby objects to burn.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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