Space heaters can be hazardous, how to prevent sparking a fire while staying warm

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 12:22 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - It’s time to turn your heaters on as the temperature continues to plummet, and, while space heaters are a popular way to warm up your home, they also come with a few safety hazards.

Waco Deputy Fire Marshal, Keith Guillory, said space heaters are a common cause of fires when cold weather strikes Central Texas.

“Dangerously cold weather and mis-heating your home with things like ovens and stoves and misuse of space heaters...Those caused a lot of our fires across the nation and right here in Waco,” Guillory said.

To avoid those fires, Guillory said to stay three feet away from space heaters at all times. This includes moving combustible materials away from the heater.

He also said it’s crucial to turn the space heater off when leaving the room because he said people could forget that it’s on, leave the house and return home to a fire.

People also are likely to use extension cords to plug in their space heaters; however, Guillory said to only use the wall outlet. He said the heat requires too much power, and, if plugged into an extension cord, it could melt and spark a fire.

He recommends purchasing space heaters that have a safety switch. This means, if the space heater tips over, it will automatically shut off.

Even with the hazards, Guillory said it’s okay to use space heaters, but he said to be extremely cautious.

“Most important thing is just being alert and being ready,” he said. “Make sure you have those working smoke alarms inside your home, so, if you do have an event with a stove or with an oven or with a fireplace or with a space heater or something like that, make sure you’re notified. The only way you can be notified if you’re asleep is through having a working smoke alarm inside your home, so make sure you have those smoke alarms working.”

He also said, for people who use fire places to heat their homes, make sure to put a screen in front of the fire place to prevent sparks getting out.