Use heaters carefully to prevent fires
This time of year, Yuma's weather is almost always much better than elsewhere in the country. But temperatures can dip low enough to make things uncomfortably cold here.
When this happens, people sometimes begin using alternative heating sources such as space heaters. While they do make for warm days and cozy nights, space heaters are one of the leading causes of home fires during winter months.
Every year, tens of thousand of heating-related fires occur, causing hundreds of deaths. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010 there were 57,100 heating fires in the U.S. and 490 people lost their lives in those fires.
Better designs and more attention to safety have reduced the number of heating fires. Prior to 1990, heating-related fires were the leading cause of home fires. Since then, it has been cooking-related fires.
To keep your home and family safe, follow these simple space heater safety tips:
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment (furnace, wood stove, portable heater, fireplace, etc.).
• Use only heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Never use your oven for heating.
• Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
• Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
• Purchase only newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features like overheat protection and a tip-over switch.
• Locate the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic.
• Don't use the space heater as a dryer for clothing, wet towels, etc.
• Use a power strip to protect both the space heater and your home's wiring from power surges and overloaded circuits.
• Turn it completely off when you go to bed or leave the house.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.