HATTIESBURG, MS (WJTV) – Temperatures in recent weeks have dipped below freezing in the Pine Belt, catching many off guard. One of the easiest and most efficient ways people are keeping themselves warm during this cold stretch is with space heaters.
While they are convenient, space heaters can be dangerous if not used properly. Hattiesburg Fire Marshal Stephen Mooney says there are specific safety measures you should take when using a space heater, like not using extension cords to plug you heater in.
“Manufacturers guidelines say plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet, and that’s what we want to tell you,” said Mooney. “We’ve seen far too many fires in homes because extension cords were stretched and they’re not rated for what it’s being used for and the extension cord itself becomes the ignitable atom and then that produces the fire inside the home.”
One of the most important things to take into account when setting up your space heater is where you put it. According to the National Fire Prevention Association’s Fire Safety Guidelines, when you’re setting up your space heater it should be at least three feet from any combustible source.
Mooney says you should also keep your space heaters away from your children and pets.
“Heating appliances, space heaters, anything in that arena, you want to maintain a three-foot kid-free barrier,” said Mooney. “If you’re talking about the space heater, if you’re talking about your stove and your oven, any time you have a heating appliance, and I would also extend that to candles: three-foot kid-free zone.”
The NFPA says half of home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January and February when it’s coldest. So make sure you are taking the necessary safety precautions when using your heating appliances.
For more information on Space Heater Safety, go to the NFPA’s website.