6 space heater safety tips that may save your life

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OKLAHOMA CITY - As temperatures drop, thousands of Oklahomans will be dusting off their space heaters to keep warm.

Experts say more than half of all fires this time of year are caused by those tiny heaters.

Demonstration video shows just how fast space heater fires can start when a blanket or bed sheet is inadvertently tossed on one.

In just minutes, or even seconds, that sheet will warm up and catch fire.

Then it could spread to other furniture and your entire house.

In another demonstration, kids pajamas laying on a space heater quickly become charred - while a cotton shirt can ignite in less than two minutes.

"One word, (they're) dangerous," one woman said downtown Tuesday. "I hate it for people who, that's their only source of heat."

"Back in Philadelphia, a buddy of mine's garage burned down because he had one out there in his workshop."

David Alexander knows not to stand too close to a space heater, after being singed while working at an ice rink.

"I was just right here, chilling, and the next thing I knew, this guy told me I was smoking," he said. "So I looked down and my pant leg was smoking, so I had to pat it out."

A space heater is suspected of starting a fatal fire in Blanchard over the weekend, and another fire at a metro apartment complex.

Here are six space heater safety tips the Oklahoma City Fire Department Captain Larin Anttila says may save your life:

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustible materials.
  • Plug the cord directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord.
  • If the space heater is out of sight, leave it off.
  • Shut it off at night.
  • Check to see if the cord is heated.  Any cord damage can spark a fire as well.
  • Never run the cord under a carpet or rug

"We want to make sure that we shut if off at night, and we establish a kid free zone during the day," Anttila said, "so kids don't come around, and of course also when you leave the house, we want to shut it off."

 

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