ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — With the weather starting to get a little colder, Escambia County Fire Rescue is encouraging residents to practice space heater safety and know the potential risks associated with home heating equipment. 

ECFR said home fires occur more in the winter months than any other time of year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths and space heaters account for four out of five home heating fire deaths. 

“Escambia County Fire Rescue encourages everyone to have a working smoke alarm,” Escambia County Fire and Life Specialist Ray Melton said. “As colder weather arrives, any home using natural gas or any alternative fuel source should have a carbon monoxide alarm and have chimneys inspected and cleaned prior to using them.”

Melton also discourages the use of kitchen stoves to heat homes, and emphasizes the importance of never leaving candles unattended. 

“If you use a space heater, plug them directly into the wall outlet instead of an extension cord or power strip,” Melton said. “Space heaters should have at least three feet of safety space to prevent fires in your home or office.”

Tips to stay safe while heating your home:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove or portable space heater.
  • Portable space heaters should be turned OFF every time you leave the room and before going to bed.
  • Never plug a space heater in a power strip.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Never use an oven to heat your home.

For portable electric heaters:

  • Place them on a solid, flat surface, away from high traffic areas and doorways.
  • Use and purchase heaters with an automatic shut off so if they are tipped over they will shut off.
  • Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
  • Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections; replace before using.

Heating Fire Facts:

  • Most home heating fire deaths (86 percent) involved stationary or portable space heaters.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27 percent) was failure to clean, principally from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (54 percent) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

ECFR said practicing these home heating safety tips will help keep the community safe and warm during the winter months. They said knowing what to do now is key to having a safe home. For more heating safety tips and fire safety information, visit NFPA. 

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