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Space heaters can be super helpful during the winter, but also super dangerous

Space heaters can be a fire hazard, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you avoid a space heater disaster.
Credit: WZDX
Space heaters could be a potential fire hazard if you are not careful when using them

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As colder weather approaches, many people bring out the space heaters, but they can be serious fire hazards if they are not used correctly.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths.

Huntsville's fire marshal has some simple tips on how to avoid space heater tragedies this winter. 

RELATED: Huntsville Fire and Rescue shares tips for preventing winter fires

"Don't have it around children or pets, have a three-foot clearance around combustibles, and just make sure that if you're going to bed or something, that you always cut it off and unplug it. Space heaters should be plugged directly into the wall, not an extension cord, extension cords can cause fires by heating up and failing and causing a fire," said Dan Wilkerson, City of Huntsville Fire Marshal. 

RELATED: Potential dangers of heating your home: how to stay safe

Here are some more tips on heating your home safely from the National Fire Protection Association's website:

  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

RELATED: Preparing for a safe winter