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Avoiding ignition of the heater when the temperature drops | Main stories

CHAMPAIGN, ILL. (WICK): As space heaters soon come out of storage and into the comfort of your home … Champaign firefighters say they pose a major fire hazard. However, there are ways to make sure you stay safe.

According to the Fire Protection Association, heating is the number 2 cause of fires and the number 3 cause of death and injury nationwide. Champagne matches these nationwide statistics. “With that said, our second leading cause of fires in Champaign is electrical, including heaters”

The first thing to remember about space heaters is that they need… space. There should always be at least 3 feet of space around them. Jeremy Mitchell, deputy fire chief for the Champaign Fire Department, says giving them space is one of the most important ways to protect against fires while they’re in use. “Make sure nothing around them will catch fire, and when we say space, we also mean keeping children and pets out, which people tend to forget.” Mitchell tells WAND News. It needs empty space around it, and it needs to be placed on a solid surface.’

Mitchell says that not only do small heaters take up space, but they also use a huge amount of energy. “If we plug them into an extension cord or plug them into an outlet or an overloaded regular wall outlet, it can really overload and cause a fire.” According to Mitchell, it’s safest to use an empty wall outlet. Also remember: never leave them unattended and unplug when they leave the room, space or sleep.

“It sounds counterintuitive, especially at night,” Mitchell says, “when you want to be warm and be in the bedroom, but unplug and turn it off, just to make sure you’re completely safe that way.”

And in the unfortunate event of a fire, Mitchell says the most important thing is to have a plan. He tells WAND News, “we teach people how to have two ways out of the house and remember that, make sure the heater, which could be a problem, is not in your escape route.”

A heater is supplemental heating, Mitchell reminds everyone. Therefore, do not use them to heat the whole house, but only to heat certain small areas.


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