Experts share tips on space heater safety and fire prevention

Nearly three out of every four fire-related deaths happen in instances where portable heating devices are used
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 11:30 PM EST
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SOUTHEASTERN N.C. (WECT) - The colder temperatures will force many families to use portable heaters to keep their homes warm. However, those heaters can be dangerous if they malfunction or are not used properly.

A space heater may be small in size, but when not operated the right way, the fire it sparks can destroy an entire home.

“This truly can happen to anyone,” said Executive Director of the Cape Fear Chapter of the Red Cross James Jarvis.

Jarvis also said that nearly three out of every four fire-related deaths happen in instances where portable heating devices are used.

After a fire in Tabor City Sunday night, investigators say a nine-year old girl turned a space heater on in her bedroom before she fell asleep. She woke up with the room full of flames.

“When she woke up, she noticed when she looked around at the door there was a heater sitting there. The heater was burning and fire was actually climbing up the wall and started getting into the ceiling,” said Columbus County Fire Marshal Shannon Blackmon.

James Jarvis with the Red Cross says space heaters need to be on a hard surface that will not burn. They should also be away from both children and pets, where it can’t be tipped over.

“First thing people should do if they get a space heater, is recognize it has space in the name for the reason,” said Jarvis.

Fire Marshal Shannon Blackmon says heaters need at least three feet of space around it. His other warning — never plug a heater into an extension cord.

“They’re designed to plug directly into the receptacle in your wall, not to be pulling off extension cords,” said Blackmon. They pull a lot of electricity, you know, so you’re pulling a lot of current through them.”

According to the Cape Fear Chapter of the Red Cross, they have responded to 32 house fires in the last seven days. They will also be assisting the family from Tabor City whenever they all recover.

For more information on fire safety from the Red Cross, click here.

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