Fire officials warn of space heater safety amid cold snap

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– With the near freezing temperatures outside, many families are trying to keep their homes warm with conventional heating systems, or even space heaters.

Local fire officials warn if space heaters are not used properly they can put you and your family in harm’s way.

“Space heaters can be really dangerous when they’re not used the proper way so what we like to tell everyone a good rule of thumb is keep it away from anything that is combustible or any kind of liquids that might catch on fire or anything else,” said Lieutenant Roy Albright with the Panama City Fire Department.

Albright said space heaters should have a safe zone of 6 to 8 feet to ensure it’s not near any flammable objects, and to be mindful of where you plug them in.

“Try not to plug it into an outlet that’s possibly overloaded, especially during this time of year with Christmas trees and Christmas lights and stuff,” Albright said.

Albright advises against leaving your space heater on throughout the day in an effort to keep your home warm. Instead, you should turn it off when you’re not home and never leave it unattended.

If you are using a fireplace to keep warm, Albright said there are precautions you should be taking too.

“Make sure you get those chimneys cleaned out because you could get a build up of bad stuff in there that can contribute to fires,” he said.

The fire department said they often gets calls concerning heaters that give off a smoky smell, but that’s not uncommon.

“They smell what is the dust burning off the coils and it’ll smell like their house is on fire, they might even get a little smoke coming out of the vent, what we always tell people is if it doesn’t feel right go ahead and call us out.”

Most importantly Albright said that ovens should be used strictly for cooking and not as a source of heat for your home.

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