Space heaters leading cause of house fires in January - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Space heaters leading cause of house fires in January

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Space heaters are the number one cause of house fires in January. Are you doing everything you can to keep your family safe?

In the past, this month has been deemed one of the most dangerous for heating-related fires. Officials say prevention is key when it comes to protecting your home this winter because heat sources can be hazardous if you aren't careful.

National statistics show heating equipment starts one out of every five house fires. Those fires cause more than 600 deaths per year.

"There are some precautions that we have to take when we think about space heaters. For those heaters, you always want to have about three feet around that," explained Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld with Toledo Fire and Rescue.

The three-foot radius serves as a safety zone to keep flammable material away from the heater.

"Things that normally may be OK in a home that does not have a space heater, once you introduce a space heater, you introduce an open flame," said Hertzfeld.

That open flame can potentially raise the temperature of the products around the heater and start a fire. Hertzfeld says space heaters should never be left unattended and they should not be running while you're asleep. 

"You want to see them in the main areas, dining room, kitchens...those types of areas where there is somebody around and they're close to a smoke alarm," suggested Hertzfeld.

Smoke detectors are another important factor in keeping your home safe. They can mean the difference between life and death.

Fire officials say if you're a resident of Toledo, there's no reason to not have a working smoke alarm because you can get one for free at any Toledo fire station.

Other fire safety tips:

-When plugging in electric heaters, make sure the outlet was designed to handle the load. Do not plug anything else into the socket with the heater.

-When using kerosene heaters, make sure you only use the correct fuel. The wrong fuel may cause a fire or explosion. Only fill to 90 percent. Kerosene will expand once indoors. After the heater has cooled, take it outside to refuel.

We want to help keep your family and home safe. Be sure to create an escape plan and practice drills to ensure that everyone knows what to do if there is a fire and smoke detectors sound. Following these tips can help you prevent a house fire this winter.

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