|Portable heater safety urged |
|Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 9:13 pm |
NASHVILLE — An estimated 900 portable heater fires in homes are reported to fire departments each year and cause an estimated 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of following safety precautions when using portable heating devices in your home,” State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said. “Keeping fire safety in mind can help save lives and property.”
Only 2 percent of heating fires in homes involve portable heaters; however, portable heaters are involved in 45 percent of all fatal heating fires in homes.
Tennessee is not immune to the devastation caused by portable heater fires. Media coverage of fires includes frequent reports of incidents involving portable heaters during the winter months. Such a fire recently claimed the life of a Collierville man when one of the space heaters he was using in his home came in contact with a flammable object while he slept.
In 2011, portable heating equipment accounted for 70 percent of all heating fire deaths in Tennessee and caused $2.5 million in property damage. The leading factors contributing to ignition in those portable heating fires were abandoned or discarded materials and combustibles too close to the heat source.
Residents can help prevent a portable heater fire in their home this winter by following a few fire safety steps:
• Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave a room.
• Keep anything that can burn — including bedding, clothing, curtains, pets and people — at least three feet away from portable heaters.
• Only use portable heaters from a recognized testing laboratory and with an automatic shut-off so that if they tip over, they shut off.
• Plug portable heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
• Check the cord for fraying or cracking and look for broken wires or signs of overheating in the device itself.
• Never run the heater cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, having a working smoke alarm reduces a person’s chance of dying in a fire by half. For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside every sleeping area and in every bedroom, and interconnect them if possible. Test smoke alarms monthly and entirely replace any smoke alarm that is 10 years old or older.
For more tips on home fire safety, refer to the checklist at http://tn.gov/commerce/sfm/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf.
Published in The Messenger 1.22.13