MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A reminder of how dangerous space heaters can be if not used correctly during this cold weather.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of all home heating fires happen in December, January, and February.
As the temperature drops, Mobile firefighters say they’re ready for any emergency.
“You never know what’s going to happen on any given call or what call is going to come in next. We do see an uptick of fires, residential, structure fires, and business fires, during the cold weather months, particularly when it gets really cold, people just do whatever they can to try to stay warm. That’s ok as long as you’re doing that safely,” said Steven Millhouse, with Mobile Fire-Rescue.
Saturday morning, 72-year-old Charles Standberry died in a house fire on Booker Street in Mobile. Mobile Fire-Rescue investigators believe it was an accident, but the cause is still under investigation.
His family believes the electrical system overloaded in his aging home, likely strained by portable heaters as he tried to keep warm. His family is now trying to warn others.
“I know it’s wintertime and people are trying to keep warm, especially if you have kids, be protective of them and be safe during the winter months,” said Willie Smiley, Standberry’s brother.
In October, 73-year-old a man was killed in a fire inside his home on Kaiser Court, Mobile Fire-Rescue says it was accidental, started by a curtain caught on a space heater.
“If it’s avoidable, do everything in your power to avoid any sort of tragedy happening. We don’t want to see a tragedy any time of the year, but particularly during the holiday season. So, bundle up, with blankets, lots of coats, and lots of warm clothing. Make sure you have your chimneys and fireplace inspected. Same thing with your HVAC system,” said Millhouse.
The national fire protection association says one in every five home fire deaths involves heating equipment.
“We never want to see that happen, our jobs are to do the best we can to prevent that. We’re here for life safety and then property safety,” said Millhouse.
Mobile Fire-Rescue says never plug a space heater into an extension cord or surge protector, and make sure it’s on a flat surface keeping anything flammable at least three feet away from any heat source.
Mobile Fire-Rescue also advises you to have a home safety plan and working smoke detectors.