Using a space heater? Local fire officials want you to do it safely

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– With the beginning of winter and cold temperatures that may come, many may look to space heaters to keep their home warm as opposed to conventional heating systems, but if space heaters are not used properly they can put your family in danger.

“According to the National Fire Protection Association around 43% of fires from 2014-2018 were caused by a space heater of some sort whether it be a chimney or an electric style space heater,” said Lieutenant Howard Demro with the Panama City Fire Department.

Lt. Demro said a key safety tip is to establish a safety zone that would create a barrier and protect flammable objects, along with pets and young kids.

“You want to keep 3 feet away from the heat, meaning anything that can burn like your furniture, your curtains, and even yourself, should be distanced 3 feet away from the space heater,” he said.

Panama City Fire also said you should check the wattage of the space heater and if it corresponds with your home’s electrical capabilities. Some devices may even come with upgraded safety features.

“Another safety feature you want to make sure your space heater has is a thermostat or an overheat protection so they don’t get too hot and catch themselves on fire,” he said.

Lt. Demro also said to be mindful of where you plug space heaters in and to never leave them unattended when on.

“You don’t want to use a power strip or an extension cord you want to plug them straight into the wall,” he said.

Those who use fireplaces to keep warm are not exempt from safety precautions.

“If you’re using a chimney you want to make sure it’s been certified by a chimney company to make sure the flute is good and everything is working properly,” Demro said.

Fire officials also said if you’re using a chimney or space heater this season, to also check if your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are also running properly, and in the event of an emergency do not hesitate to dial 911.

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