Be careful with space heaters to prevent tragedy

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December 19, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's common sense that can save your life this winter.

When using space heaters, careless mistakes could cost you.

Today, Georgia's fire safety commissioner John Oxendine was in Augusta with the same tour he started three years ago, bringing advice that has helped fire deaths to steadily decline across the state.

Space heaters are the number two cause of fire deaths in winter months.

Carelessness is a big reason.

"They put them too close to combustibles, too close to the chairs, couch, too close to the bed, and it causes many fires and fire deaths," said Lt. G.B. Hannan, Richmond County fire investigator.

Georgia insurance and safety fire commissioner John Oxendine says using common sense will save your life.

Fire experts also say dried out Christmas trees can be a safety hazard.

"It will light up and have your room full of flames in less than a minute," Lt. Hannan said.

Experts say that you should always look for heaters that are three-prong and have the Underwriter's Laboratory label.

You should also have a working smoke detector.

"I saw a person had an electric heater on top of a pile of newspapers in a bedroom," Commissioner Oxendine said. "That lady is not alive today because of that mistake."

Richmond County has not had any deaths as a result of space heaters this year.

Here are some things you should be reminded of:

  • If you use heaters, keep them 3 to 4 feet away from flammables.

  • Never buy a used heater.

  • Make sure the heater has a UL label

  • If you use kerosene heaters, fill them up outside and only use K-1 kerosene as fuel.

  • Don't pour kerosene in the heater; always use a pumping device.

  • And never use a match to start a kerosene heater. There should be an electric start button.