Using Space Heaters and Other Electric Equipment Wisely This Winter

DULUTH, Minn. — December is the darkest time of the year, and we all look for ways to stay warm, brighten our home and lift our spirits. Often to do this we will turn to products that use electricity. Space heaters caused ten percent of all home fires from 2013 to 2017 according to the Minnesota Department of Public Service. Electric space heaters use a great deal of electricity and that’s why the heaters come with so many warnings including don’t overload the circuit.

Duluth’s Deputy Fire Chief, Jon Otis says “Be sure the space heater is plugged into an approved wall outlet. Don’t use an extension cord. Don’t use power strips, plug it right into the wall.”

Space heaters need to be three feet from anything that could catch fire and be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.

Electrical issues this time of year can be caused by many things other than just space heaters. Think about what’s on your Christmas tree.

“The electrical issue, make sure you’re checking your lights. Anything that you’re putting on there that’s electrical, make sure that it’s in good working order.” said Otis. He continued “Nothing broken, frayed and that sort of thing and don’t overload it. Sometimes you’ll see string after string after string of lights all plugged into each other. This can overload the system and start a fire, particularly on a dry Christmas tree.”

With the prospect of power outages over the next few days, you may be looking for ways to keep yourself warm but there are definite things not to do.

“Don’t bring in anything that is going to burn fuel. So don’t bring in charcoal stoves of grills, don’t bring in wood burning stoves. When you’re bringing in things that consume oxygen, they also produce carbon monoxide and that’s going to create a bigger danger. ”

To be safe this winter, you’ll also need to make sure some things are taken care of on the outside of your house. Be sure to clear snow away from the air vents for you furnace, your dryer, the fireplace and your oven vents. This will keep carbon monoxide from building up in the house.

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