Space heater fire prevention tips

Family grieve over the death of 18 year old Morgan Duncan, killed in a house fire Nov. 20, 2014.

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Family members say the fire which claimed the life of 18 year old Morgan Duncan November 20th was most likely caused by a space heater.

In the wake of that death the Topeka Fire Department offers a reminder about these safety tips when using space heaters:

  1. Use only a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Older space heaters may not meet newer safety standards.
  2. Carefully check all electric space heaters for signs of frayed wires, broken wires, overheating or frayed insulation. If any problems are found the heater should not be used.
  3. Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture,
  4. Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
  5. Pets and children should be carefully supervised around space heaters. These appliances get very hot, and children or pets can easily be burned severely.
  6. Never lay clothes or any other materials on top of a space heater. It can be tempting to dry clothes, socks or shoes near a space heater, but those materials could easily catch fire.
  7. Turn off all space heaters when the room is empty and turn off all space heaters before going to bed for the night.  Unplug all heaters when not in use.  Use your heater for 20 to thirty minutes prior to going to bed to warm the room, then unplug from wall outlet prior to going to sleep.
  8. The Topeka Fire Department does not recommend using an extension cord with a space heater.  If you find it is absolutely necessary to use an extension cord, remember using a light-duty household extension cord with high-wattage appliances can start a fire. If you must use an extension cord, it must be marked #14 or #12 AWG;
  9. Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet; a loose plug can overheat and cause a fire. Even operating correctly the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. Using a heater with a hot cord or plug could start a fire.
  10. Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Since the cord and plug generate heat even when operating properly.  Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat and can cause a fire.


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