It is time to use portable heaters to break winter chills but Manchester firefighters warn to use caution.
According to statistics, an estimated 900 portable heater fires in homes are reported to fire departments each year and cause an estimated 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss.
“Staying warm is very important, but safety is very important when it comes to using portable heaters,” said Manchester Fire Chief Charlie Taylor. “Most of the fires involving portable heaters can be prevented.”
One way to prevent a possible fire is checking the location of where the heater is stationed.
“Individuals using portable heaters need to make sure that anything that can burn such as bedding, clothing and curtains are at least three feet away from the heater,” Taylor said. “This not only applies to portable heaters, it also applies to wall heaters. Many times individuals think their old wall heaters are disconnected and put furniture or other items right in front of them. When the temperatures get real cold, then those heaters kick on and the next thing you know there is a fire.”
Other safety tips for using portable heaters include turning the units off when leaving the room or going to bed, and using only heaters from a recognized testing laboratory that have an automatic shut off.
“An automatic shut off is important in the event that the heater is tipped over,” Taylor said. “If that does happen, the unit will turn off.”
Another important safety tip when using portable heaters is to make sure the unit is plugged into an outlet and never into an extension cord or power strip.
“Even though many portable heaters are small in size, they still pull a lot of electricity,” Taylor added. “They should always be plugged into an outlet to avoid the chance of over-heating an extension cord.”