State College, Pa- With below freezing temperatures outside, some might think house fires are less likely to start. But, inside homes that don’t heat evenly, a popular quick fix appliance is considered a dangerous fire hazard during the winter months.
“The most common problem is portable heating,” said Steve Bair, Chief of the Alpha Fire Company in State College.
Bair says the biggest mistake made when using space heaters is not giving enough space between the heater and household objects.
“You gotta remember that’s a very very hot point source and it needs to be at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch on fire,” Bair said.
This includes chairs, curtins, blankets, and even carpet… all can catch fire in minutes and in some cases seconds.
But once you put the space heater in a safe spot, you’re free to leave it one unattended right? Wrong.
“I strongly discourage running space heaters when they’re not home to be monitored,” Bair said.
He also says a pet could easily knock over a heater… causing it to catch fire. Additionally, the heater could overload a circuit, also causing a fire. Bair says to avoid this, do not plug the heater into an extension cord or power strip.
He also warns against using household appliances, like a stove, to heat your home.
“Your oven and your stove is not intended to heat your house…. it’s horribly inefficient, it’s not gonna put that much heat into the room. You can actually set the house on fire as you basically overdrive that appliance…. that thing is just not made to run non-stop.”
Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that half of fire deaths related to heating equipment occur in December, January, and February. Over 85% of those deaths are caused by space heaters.