The American Red Cross in Western Pennsylvania is urging people to proceed with caution when using space heaters to keep warm during the colder months.
“According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires are the second leading cause of home fires (cooking is the first) and are responsible for 19 percent of home fire deaths,” Red Cross spokesman Dan Tobin said. “Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating fires and are responsible for more home fire deaths than fires caused by central heating sources.”
Here are some safety tips for using space heaters, fireplaces, or wood and coal stoves, as per the Red Cross:
•Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
•Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
•Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
•Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
•Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
•If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as a ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.
Additional information can be found at redcross.org/wpahomefire. People can also download the free American Red Cross Emergency App from a device’s app store.