Important safety tips for using space heaters during cold temperatures

Cold bitter temperatures are settling in North Mississippi with more people probably turning on space heaters to keep warm which is causing a concern for house fires.

Posted: Dec. 27, 2017 8:12 PM
Updated: Dec. 28, 2017 8:06 AM

TUPELO, Miss.  (WTVA) --  Cold temperatures are settling in, and more people are probably turning on space heaters to keep warm.

However, this is causing a concern for house fires.

“In the last three months, maybe 30 to 40 different individual house fires,” said Edward Whittley.

Whittley is the lead volunteer for the American Red Cross based in Tupelo. He serves the Lee County area and says it has been a busy time for them.  Since October 1st, the American Red Cross responded to 157 house fires in the 31 counties it serves, including several in Lee County.

Whittley says it’s important to help families forced out into the cold because of house fires.

“I’ll try to relieve and give them something, along with a little breathing room,” said Whittley.

The American Red Cross said most of the fires they’ve responded to were caused by accidents. Accidents fire officials say could have easily been prevented.

Tupelo Fire Marshal Jason Cross has seen his share of house fires in the last couple of months. He says all of them were caused by space heaters. Cross says his greatest fear during the winter months is that people will use them to keep warm but not properly.

“The biggest problem we have with them is basically going against the basic safety rules of a space heater, “ said Jason Cross.

Cross says if you are going to use a space heater to stay warm, make sure you follow these safety tips:

“‘Use the three foot rule so that the space heater is not near anything combustible, keep the space heater on a flat surface, and don’t use an extension cord instead plug the space heater into the wall,” said Cross.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross says it needs more volunteers to help aid families in their time of need.

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