Fire officials: Use space heaters with caution
Space heaters have been tied to multiple fires in Durham in the past, and officials urge caution when residents are using them and wood stoves as a heating source.
“Heating is the second leading cause of fire death and the third leading cause of injury to people ages 65 and older,” Edward Reid, assistant chief and fire marshal with the Durham Fire Department, said. “Many of these deaths and injuries could be prevented with safe heating practices.”
Nationally, Reid said, there are more home fires during December, January and February than any other time of the year.
Here’s his advice:
- Space heaters need space. Keep flammable materials at least 3 feet from heaters.
- When buying a space heater, look for a control feature that automatically shuts off power if it falls over.
- Keep fire in the fireplace by having a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
Kerosene heaters are not allowed in most places, Reid said. But if you have one, use only the type of fuel listed in the instructions.
Also, Reid recommends:
- Allowing your heater to cool before refueling and only refuel outdoors.
- Having your chimney inspected at least once a year. Tar buildup inside the chimney can cause the chimney, roof and the entire house to go up in flames.
- For wood-stove fuel, use only seasoned wood. Never use green wood, artificial logs or trash. Seasoned wood looks dark or gray compared to green wood. It’s white on the inside.
“One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to have a working smoke alarm,” Reid said. “Prepare an escape plan and practice it twice a year. Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two escape routes from their bedrooms.”