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Local fire departments stress safety with space heaters as cold weather begins

Officials with local fire departments say it is only a matter of time until we see fires started by space heaters as colder weather begins to settle into the Southeast over the coming weeks.

They say it’s a call they get more than once this time of year as the temperatures drop when one of the ways people tend to use in an effort to save money is by using space heaters.

While the heaters can help with the cost of bills during winter months, they can also be dangerous.

Fire officials say they respond to space heater-related calls every year and they want to get the word out on how to use these heaters properly.

The first tip, they say, is to avoid using extension cords and only plugging the heaters into wall outlets.

They say you’re never supposed to use extension cords for space heaters. The amperage is too high and the extension cords can fail, overheat and cause a fire.

Last December, firefighters say a space heater and drop cord likely started a fire in a Walker County home.

Fire crews say the man who lived in this home escaped only because his smoke detector woke him up. His home was gone.

While it might be warmer to keep it close to a bed or couch, officials say you should keep a minimum of 3 feet between heaters and flammable objects..such as furniture, cabinets, curtains, etc.

With space heaters, there’s no open flame, but the radiant heat is enough to where if it’s next to something for long enough it can catch something on fire, they say.

Fire officials remind you that October is National Fire Prevention Month.

In addition to asking the public to think safety when it comes to using space heaters and other portable heat sources in cold weather, they want to remind the public to think wisely and use common sense in regards to other fire hazards — such as candles, open flames, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, leaving clothes dryers running unattended while gone or asleep, holiday lights and many others.

They also want to remind the public to test their smoke detectors regularly and replace their batteries when required. And remember to check the expiration date on the back of your smoke detectors to ensure they’re still functioning.

If you have questions or concerns or need assistance with your smoke detectors — you’re encouraged to contact your local fire department or volunteer fire department.

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