Fire officials preparing & urging safety with space heater fires

Fire officials preparing & urging safety with space heater fires

Amarillo, TX -   A common tool in the winter already has area fire departments reminding the public of its dangers.

They're usually cheap and fairly simple to use and fire officials tell us they become even more hazardous around the winter months.

One Amarillo family is homeless after a fire stemming from their floor furnace, leaves their home unlivable. They put their love seat directly above it, causing a fire that left $25,000 worth of damage.

While it is the first fire of its kind this season, firefighters want the public to prepare.

"We recommend that you keep a 3 foot safe zone around any portable heating appliance you know, don't have anything flammable around those heaters and as well don't let any pets or young children around them," says Amarillo Fire Capt. Larry Davis.

Furnace and space heater fires aren't the only issues officials are worried about. Carbon monoxide contamination also rises during the winter months.

"We have a variety of things," says Davis. "People will run extension cords to use their space heaters and that can be dangerous, you know if you overload an extension cord it can heat up and it can cause fires as well. Another concern that we have is this time of year again like the floor furnaces or the wall furnaces...if you have an open flame type heater, that can also cause a carbon monoxide problem. So make sure that you've got working carbon monoxide alarms."

And if you have pets and kids, you are asked to keep a special eye on them if you have some of these devices around the house.

"Absolutely never leave children unattended around these type of heaters, these portable heaters. It does increase the chance of fires, but it also greatly increases the chance of children getting injured from the fire."

Davis says this is also the perfect time for people to test out their smoke alarms to make sure they are up and running with fresh batteries. And if your space heater is damaged, it probably should not be used at all.