Space heaters a focus during Fire Prevention Week

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Fire Prevention Week will be Oct. 4-10 this year. The primary objective of Fire Prevention Week is to educate personnel to eliminate or minimize loss of life and property by fire. 

Winter is approaching, and the high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of wood burning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. 

Space heaters collectively pose a much higher risk of fire and associated losses than does central heating of all types combined. In 2006, space heaters accounted for an estimated 19,400 reported home structure fires, 390 civilian deaths, 820 civilian injuries, and $478 million in direct property damage. 

The good news is that many of these space heater fires can be prevented. 

Fire Prevention Tips:
- Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room 

- Use and purchase portable space heaters with an auto shut off so if they're tipped over they will shut off. 

- Place heaters on a solid flat surface, with 3 ft. of clearance. 

- Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into extension cords. 

- Inspect for cracked or damaged, broken plugs or loose connections. Replace before using. 

- Select a space heater that is rated by the manufacturer for the size space you intend to heat. 

- Never leave children alone near space heaters.