LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Winter weather is finally upon us, and that means cranking up the thermostat and breaking out the space heater, but not using these devices properly can turn tragic.
The Lake Charles Fire Department is reminding everyone to take precautions when using space heaters to keep warm this season.
Brad Briles is the Chief of Fire Prevention Bureau for the Lake Charles Fire Department.
“Every year, there will be an uptick in fires we have to respond to due to space heaters, or it could be electrical heating blankets, stuff like that,” Chief Briles said. “People overload extension cords or just not practicing the best safety when they’re using these things to heat their home.”
An important precaution is keeping at least three feet between the space heater and flammable objects.
“The clearance is one of the big issues we see, having them too close to a pile of clothing or something like that in the middle of the night and catch on fire.”
When using a heater, make sure its electric cord is in good shape, don’t place it in a walkway or blocking an exit, and do not plug them into an extension cord.
Which type of heater you buy can also make a huge difference.
“If you’re looking to go purchase one, make sure you’re getting one that has one of these auto shutoff features. That way, if it happens to get knocked over when you’re not around in the room, it’s going to automatically shut off.”
Chief Briles says it’s also important to keep your fireplace in good condition.
“If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure all the stuff is working properly, as well, and make sure you’re having your chimneys cleaned regularly. Another practice that sometimes we see that can cause problems is people that are using their ovens in their kitchen. They’ll turn their oven on and open the door to try and heat their home. Using the oven is not a safe practice either.”
If a fire does happen, having an alert system can save your life.
“I think my number one piece of advice to the public would be make sure you have a working fire detector, fire alarm in your home. That’s the most important thing.”
Chief Briles also says it’s important to keep your space heater on a level surface to keep it from falling over.