Space heaters account for 86 percent of home heating deaths: How you can keep your family safe

As the weather gets colder this winter, warming your home with space heaters carries some risks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for half of all home heating fires.

In just the past year, fires in Illinois, Pennsylvania, DC and New York were associated with space heaters.

Space heater fires account for almost 50 percent of U.S. home heating fires and 86 percent of associated deaths.

"It's not because the device or the equipment is unsafe," said Scott Goldstein, Chief of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. "It's because people aren't using them safely."

SEE ALSO | How to get your home ready for cooler weather

So how hot can they really get?

Shortly after it's turned on, it can get up to 100 degrees. Wait a few more minutes and it will already be at 300 degrees.

And a fire can spread quickly when a space heater is too close to combustible items.

In a mock living room space, a space heater was placed too close to the couch and the safety feature, which automatically shuts it down if the space heater overheats, was shut off.

In just a few seconds, the space heater started smoking.

TAKEAWAYS:
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn
  • Never use an extension cord
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet
  • Never leave a space heater unattended
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