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Tips to Remember When Using a Space Heater

Frigid temperatures in Northern Michigan mean people are plugging in their space heaters, but they can be dangerous.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates portable heaters are responsible for about 1,700 fires per year; about 80 of them are deadly.

“I can think of a number of them throughout my career,” said Steven Ball, Captain at Traverse City Fire Department. “I do remember one where there was a blanket that was really close to the heater, and that alone was enough to catch the blanket on fire,”

“Once a fire starts now, it only takes three to five minutes for the fire to move beyond the realm of origin,” said Jim Tuller, Fire Chief at Traverse City Fire Department. “They happen very quickly, and they produce a lot of toxic by-products like combustion, smoke and toxins in the air.”

The Traverse City Fire Department has some tips for you to remember when using a space heater. First, make sure nothing is within the heater’s three-foot radius and plug it directly into a wall. Do not use an extension cord.

“Another general recommendation is not to leave them unattended make sure you are in the room when they are being used,” said Tuller.

Firefighters also recommend never leaving a space heater running in a room with a child.

“They can be easily tipped over. Some of the newer space heaters have tip-over safety, so if they get knocked over, they will shut off, but we really don’t want to rely on technology to keep us safe,” said Tuller.

But if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation, the Traverse City Fire Department is always there to help.

“We work really hard to keep people safe,” said Tuller.

“I love what I do. I’ve done it for a number of years now, and I enjoy coming to work every day,” said Ball.