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Fire deputy commissioner speaks on space heater safety

“Three foot distance is what we recommend for a space heater. It should be flat on the floor."
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Posted at 11:30 PM, Jan 10, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Space heaters can keep you warm on a cold winter night, but using one can pose some risks.

Fire Deputy Commissioner, Christopher Cowell, says this time of year, 45 percent of fires in Western New York are residential fires caused by space heaters.

He says if you have a space heater, you must be careful with it.

“The main thing is to never leave the room with it on,” Cowell says. “Don’t go to bed with it on. If you leave the room, turn it off.”

The commissioner says space heaters are meant to give temporary heat. It’s not meant to heat the house to keep you comfortable all day or all night. Yet, there are some safety steps you can take.

“Three-foot distance is what we recommend for a space heater. It should be flat on the floor,” he stresses. “You want to make sure you don’t use an extension cord. They are meant to be plugged into a wall socket, so you don’t shout it out and cause an electrical fire.”

The commissioner adds that you need to watch your space heater.

“The only type of space heater we recommend for an inside living area would be an electric one that’s certified and in good condition,” he says. “It doesn’t have any shorts in the cable, and you are in the area making sure you’re watching it while it’s on.”

The deputy fire commissioner also says leaving a gas stove on to warm up while you’re away or asleep can be deadly.

Click here for heating season safety tips.