Fire Commissioner Oxendine tours state to promote heater safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire Commissioner Oxendine tours state to promote heater safety

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State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

January 26 , 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Eight Georgians have already died in fires already in 2009.  An Albany man is still in serious condition at the Augusta Burn Center after a space heater set his house on fire last week. 

Firefighters say 81-year-old James Richardson's space heater caught his bed on fire about 12:20 Tuesday, when he left it on during one of the coldest days of the year.

"He had a space heater in his bedroom. Went to take a shower. Came out of the shower, the house was on fire. He could have very easily have died," State Fire Commissioner John Oxendine said.

Knowing there will be more cold weather ahead, and more Georgians will be using space heaters for warmth, Oxendine and Albany Fire Chief James Carswell reminded South Georgians to plan ahead.

Get the right equipment to prevent a fire. Electrical space heaters should have the UL label, and you shouldn't use one with an extension cord. Use only a quality surge protector not a cheap look alike power strip.

"This is a fancy plug. It's called a power strip. It gives no protection whatsoever," Oxendine said.

Officials warn never to buy a used space heater, and only a new model kerosene heater with a battery lighter.

 "You don't ever use a match to light a kerosene heater. You also don't ever pour kerosene into a kerosene heater. This is a siphon device and this is what you use to refill it," Oxendine said.

Firefighters say working smoke detectors are a necessity if you are going to use a space heater. And they urge you to go ahead and buy your heating needs ahead of time, not when the cold temperatures plunge down.

You should never put a space heater on a table and always keep a five foot area around any heater cleared to prevent fires.

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