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Space heater safety

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January 19, 2005

Albany - Monday morning, temperatures dipped down into the low twenties. 71-year-old Marcus Harvey used a space heater to stay warm. Unfortunately, the heater was too close to his bed. Albany Fire Chief James Carswell says, "Those things, if you take care of them they won't wind up causing you problems in the middle of the night and unfortunately it sometimes can cost you your life."

But space heaters aren't the danger, improper use of them is. "Anytime you use an auxiliary heating device to stay warm," Carswell says, "you need to follow the manufactures directions. They're there for a reason: to keep you protected."

All space heaters should be at least three feet from any flammable materials. Look for safety features such as a tip over switch that will cut the heater off when it falls, and make sure it's been tested by an accredited lab, such as ETL or UL. And only use a space heater as an auxiliary source of heat, like Marnie Toms. She says, "This is just for, we have an old building that we own and we wanted to use it to kind of keep the colder rooms warm, because the ventilation's not as good."

Also, when you go to sleep or walk out of a room being warmed by a space heater, make sure to turn it off. You can wear layers and add extra blankets to stay warm. Even if you're not using a space heater in your home, every room where someone is sleeping should have a working smoke detector. Many fire departments will install one free of charge for you.

posted at 5:19 PM by karen.collier@walb.com