Space heater safety tips

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Space Heater Safety could mean the difference between life and death this winter.

There were three deaths caused by malfunctioning or improperly used space heaters in November. Since December 1st there have been an additional five deaths according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. The office said there have been a total of 74 in 2010 down from the 78 deaths in 2009.

With winter weather here, Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal, Mike Chaney stresses to use extra precaution when using space heaters as a heating source.

"Space heating poses a much higher risk of fire, death and injury than central heating," Chaney said.

The State Fire Marshal's Office offers these space heater safety tips:

-Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.

-Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.

-All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.

-Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

-Never use your oven for heating.

-Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment, according to the local codes and manufacturer's instructions.

-Have a qualified professional install the equipment.

-Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

-Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is created when fuels burn incompletely. CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.

-Make sure the venting for exhaust is kept clear and unobstructed. This includes removal of snow and ice around the outlet to the outside.

Portable electric space heater safety tips:

-Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.

-Use and purchase portable space heaters with an automatic shut off so if they're tipped over they will shut off.

-Place space heater on solid, flat surface.

-Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.

-Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using.

Fuel burning space heaters safety tips:

-Always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

-When refueling, allow the appliance to cool and refuel outside or in a well-ventilated area.

-When using the heater, open a window to ensure proper ventilation.

-In portable kerosene or other liquid-fueled space heaters always use the proper grade of the proper fuel.

-All new unvented gas-fired space heaters have an oxygen depletion sensor that detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. If you have an older heater without this feature, replace it.

-If the pilot light of your gas heater goes out, allow five minutes or more for the gas to go away before trying again, do not allow gas to accumulate, and light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot to avoid risk of flashback.

-If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not attempt to light the appliance. Turn off all the controls and open doors and window. Call a gas service person.

Wood burning stoves safety tips:

-Install the stove, chimney connectors and chimneys following manufacturer's instructions or have a professional do the installation.

-Wood stoves should bear the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

-In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.

-Start the fire with newspaper or kindling. Never use flammable liquid, such as lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline.

-Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.

-Allow ashes to cool before disposing. Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep the ash container at least ten feet away from the home and any other nearby buildings. Douse and saturate with water.

-Should a fire break out in the home, have an emergency evacuation plan for the family to follow and have a designated meeting place for all family members.

-Once everyone is outside the burning home, call 911 and do not re-enter the house.

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