With winter temperature upon us, many of us are warming our homes with space heaters. Many use these compact electric heaters because they are convenient and cost effective. However, they need to be used with extreme caution because they are potentially hazardous due to the fires they can cause.
The U.S. Fire Administration says heating fires account for 36 percent of all residential home fires in rural areas every year.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are several safety steps consumers can take. They include:
--Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface.
--Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes and furniture.
--Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
--Turn off heaters when going to sleep or leaving the room.
--Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and are certified by a nationally recognized-testing laboratory.
--Electric heaters should be inspected prior to use.
--Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house, inside every bedroom and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedroom in each sleeping area.
Last year in West Virginia, heating equipment fires ranked second only to cooking fires in terms of frequency.
If you have a space heater, use it with extreme caution, we can't afford to lose one single West Virginian.