The Eastern United States is experiencing some of the coldest weather it has seen in a long while. It bites particularly hard here in the Southeast, where we’re accustomed to low temperatures in the 30s, not single digits.
With this dangerously cold weather, it is difficult to keep a house warm; the central unit runs constantly, and the house still has a chill. This is when many people pull out the space heaters – the ones you plug into the wall outlet and they can heat small areas.
Firefighters are warning people to use extreme caution with space heaters because they are a common cause of house fires this time of year. Most all of these types of fires can be prevented. Fire officials say the fires are due to either negligence or a misunderstanding of how the equipment is supposed to work, or a maintenance issue.
Space heaters sparked 3 house fires this week in Birmingham, Alabama. Fortunately, there were no injuries or deaths from these fires.
The Birmingham Fires and Rescue recommends that you have a home fire protection plan including smoke alarms, extinguishers, a fire escape plan and fire sprinklers.
The National Fire Protection Association offers heating safety tips that could prevent fires and save lives:
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from the heat source, such as space heaters and fire places.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Remember to turn off portable heaters when leaving the house or going to bed.
- Test smoke alarms monthly.
Stay warm, but make sure you and your family are safe and warm. Also, keep your pets warm and be sure to check on your neighbors.