Keep safety in mind when using space heaters this winter - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Keep safety in mind when using space heaters this winter

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

As temperatures drop, some people start lighting fires in their fireplaces, while many others turn to space heaters for warmth.  Space heaters may help warm up the house, but they also pose a fire danger.

Numbers from the U.S. Fire Administration show that Alabama continues to have one of the worst fire fatality rates in the nation. 

Fortunately, the number of fatalities and injuries caused by residential fires has declined gradually over the past several decades, and many residential fire-related deaths are preventable.

The vast majority of fires happen in single family homes, started by people heating their homes in dangerous ways, like using stoves as a source of heat, misusing space heaters or leaving food unattended on a stove.

Space heaters are great for warming individual rooms, but officials say they can often be the source of house fires when they're not used properly.

Officials advise consumers to make sure they have a heater with an automatic shutoff when it gets too hot.  Keep children and pets away from the heater to avoid tipping them over.  And be sure to keep heaters at least three feet away from combustible materials.

Fire officials also advise families to have an escape plan in case of a fire that has two ways out of any room.  And practice your plan often.

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