Warning issued on use of space heaters


“Space heater” by Hardyplants – Self made. Licensed under CC0 via Wikipedia.

The state safety director on Friday put out a warning to use portable heaters properly, after seven deaths attributed to them in five cold days.

“I urge the public to understand the dangers these devices pose, and to closely follow the necessary precautions anytime they are used, especially around children and at night when people are sleeping,” Department of Public Safety Director Daniel Isom said.

According to the written statement:

Space heaters account for about a third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths each year, The National Fire Protection Association reports.

Among the recent fatal Missouri fires was one in Poplar Bluff on Feb.1. Two children, ages 8 and 10, and one 47-year-old adult died in a fire that started in a room with electric and propane space heaters.

On Wednesday, a fire in University City killed two children and a grandmother. An electric space heater is the suspected cause.

Thursday morning a house fire killed a St. Louis man, and hot plates used for heating a house are the suspected cause.

Isom urged the public to follow these safety precautions whenever heating equipment is used:

  •  Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. The three-foot safety zone includes furniture, drapes, and electronics – anything that can burn.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Turn off portable heaters whenever leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Do not overload extension cords or outlets. Many extension cords and power strips are not designed to handle the load of an electric heater. Never place an electrical cord under a rug.
  • Never use an oven or other cooking devices to heat your home.
  •  Make sure your home has working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by testing them monthly.”

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