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Warning: Space Heaters Can Be Deadly

Space heaters account for 25,000 fires and 300 deaths nationwide each year. Credit: Benchill/WikimediaCommons
Space heaters account for 25,000 fires and 300 deaths nationwide each year. Credit: Benchill/WikimediaCommons
October 5, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – This week children across Missouri will go through drills and create home safety plans as part of Fire Prevention Week, and as winter approaches, fire officials say there is an often-overlooked item in the home that can lead to disaster.

Supplemental heating devices, or space heaters, account for 80 percent of the deaths related to home heating fires.

Last February, seven Missourians died within five days.

Greg Carrell, acting state fire marshal, says it's important to keep flammables a safe distance from the heaters.

"Curtains, tablecloths, couches, chairs, you know, anything that can burn, you should keep the space heater back away from that,” he urges. “We talk about at least three feet of distance, we talk about kid-free and pet-free zones. They could easily knock these over."

He also says it's important to turn off all space heaters before bed.

This year's theme for Fire Prevention Week is Hear the Beep Where You Sleep, emphasizing the need for working alarms in every bedroom.

"Make sure that we're using these properly, make sure that they're clean, make sure they're serviced,” he stresses. “But have a good, working carbon monoxide alarm in your house, too. It is odorless, it's colorless, and you don't know it's there until you begin to feel sick."

Any heating device that burns a fuel produces carbon monoxide.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO