With the recent cold temperatures in South Carolina, the Red Cross is warning residents to be careful when heating their homes.
Red Cross of South Carolina spokesman Cuthbert Langley said the group’s volunteers in December responded to a 69 percent increase in the number of house fires compared to the same time last year.
“We often see an uptick in the number of house fires around the cold weather season,” he said. “That’s because people are using space heaters and alternative forms of heating.”
If using a space heater, Langley said do not leave it unattended and ensure it is being used according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
“We always recommend that people, if they use a space heater, that they plug it directly into the wall, they keep it on a level surface and they’re buying a model that will turn off if the space heater happens to tip over,” he said.
The National Fire Protection Association said space heaters were the cause of nearly one out of every five fatal home heating fires.
“It is just so important that people are heating their homes safely and they’re paying attention to those heating sources all the time,” Langley said. He recommends if you lose power or your home does not have heat, consider going to a local inclement weather warming shelter or finding someplace else to stay rather than relying on a space heater or fireplace. Never use a stove to heat your home.”
“When heating your home, please remember that space heaters need just that: space,” reads a statement from the Red Cross. “Be sure they are three feet away from anything that can burn: furniture, bedding carpets, rugs, and curtains. Children and pets should be kept away so they do not get burned. Make sure the space heater is off and unplugged before leaving a room or falling asleep. It is important to plug the space heater directly into an outlet and not an extension cord. Before you plug it in, inspect the power cord before each use. If the cord is worn, broken or loose have the appliance professionally repaired or replace it.”