As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers

As temperatures drop this holiday season, fire officials are urging caution when it comes to using space heaters. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is responsible for approximately 81% of fatal house fires. One recent incident in Springettsbury Township, York County, resulted in a family losing their home due to a fire caused by a space heater. Chief Daniel Hoff of York Area United Fire and Rescue emphasized the importance of being mindful of the dangers that heating equipment can pose if not used properly. The NFPA recommends several safety practices, including keeping anything that can burn at least three feet away from heaters, never using ovens to heat homes, and turning off portable heaters when leaving a room or going to bed. By being aware of these precautions, individuals can ensure their homes remain safe during the colder months.

The Dangers of Space Heaters

House Fires Caused by Heating Equipment

When the temperatures drop, many people turn to space heaters to keep their homes warm and cozy. However, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with using these heating devices. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), around 81% of fatal house fires are caused by heating equipment. This statistic alone should make anyone pause and think about the potential risks involved with using space heaters.

Recent House Fire in York County

Recently, a family in Springettsbury Township in York County experienced the devastating loss of their home due to a house fire. Fire officials investigated the incident and determined that a space heater was the cause of the fire. This unfortunate event serves as a reminder of the importance of being cautious when using heating equipment, especially during the holiday season when decorations and wrapping paper can be highly flammable.

Importance of Being Careful with Space Heaters

Chief Daniel Hoff of York Area United Fire and Rescue emphasized the need for people to be mindful of the dangers associated with heating equipment. In addition to the Springettsbury Township incident, Hoff mentioned that there had been a second fire of similar nature in December. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that space heaters can pose a significant risk if not used properly. Being aware of the potential hazards and taking appropriate precautions is vital for the safety of you and your loved ones.

Statistics on House Fires

81% of Fatal House Fires Caused by Heating Equipment

The NFPA’s statistics reveal a startling fact: heating equipment is responsible for 81% of fatal house fires. This statistic underscores the importance of understanding the risks associated with using these devices. While space heaters can provide warmth, they must be used with caution to prevent tragic accidents.

14% of Home Fires Caused by Space Heaters

Furthermore, the NFPA found that 14% of all home fires are caused by space heaters. This means that one in six home fires can be attributed to the use of these portable heating devices. Ensuring you are well-informed about the potential dangers and taking appropriate preventive measures is essential to protect yourself and your property.

As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers

Causes of Space Heater Fires

Overturned Equipment

One of the common causes of space heater fires is when the equipment is accidentally overturned. This can happen if a heater is placed on an unstable surface or if it is knocked over by a pet or child. It’s crucial to ensure that your space heater is placed on a stable, level surface to minimize the risk of accidents.

Proximity to Flammable Items

Another cause of space heater fires is when the device is placed too close to flammable items. Bedding, furniture, and decorations can easily catch fire if they come into contact with a space heater. Keeping flammable items at least three feet away from the heater significantly reduces the likelihood of a fire occurring.

Importance of Proper Electrical Connection

Direct Plugging into Wall Outlet

When using a space heater, it is crucial to plug it directly into a wall outlet. Avoid using extension cords or power strips, as they can become weak points in the electrical circuit. Plugging the heater directly into an outlet ensures a secure and stable connection, minimizing the risk of electrical fires.

Avoiding Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips are not designed to handle the high electrical load that space heaters require. They can overheat and potentially cause a fire. To prevent this, always choose a space heater with a cord long enough to reach the nearest wall outlet. This way, you can avoid using extension cords altogether and reduce the risk of electrical accidents.

As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers

Home Safety Practices to Prevent Fires

Keeping Flammable Items Away

One of the most important safety practices to prevent space heater fires is to keep flammable items at least three feet away from the heater. This includes furniture, bedding, curtains, rugs, and decorations. Maintaining a safe distance between the space heater and any potentially combustible materials greatly reduces the risk of a fire starting.

Maintaining Kid-Free Zone

Creating a three-foot kid-free zone around space heaters and home fireplaces is crucial for child safety. Children are naturally curious, and their curiosity can lead them to touch or accidentally knock over a space heater. By establishing a designated area free from children and pets, you can prevent accidents and minimize the risk of fires.

Not Using Oven for Heating

It may be tempting to use your oven to heat your home, especially during colder weather. However, this is extremely dangerous and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or even a house fire. Ovens are not designed to be used as heating devices, and doing so can have dire consequences. Always use heating equipment that is specifically designed for home heating purposes.

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Professional Installation and Maintenance

Having a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, and central heating equipment is crucial. Improper installation can lead to electrical or gas leaks, increasing the risk of fires. Additionally, regular maintenance and inspections by professionals ensure that any potential issues are identified and resolved promptly, reducing the risk of accidents.

Turning Off Portable Heaters

When leaving a room or going to bed, it is essential to turn off any portable heaters. It’s easy to forget to do so, but leaving a space heater unattended increases the risk of a fire starting. By making it a habit to turn off the heater when it’s not needed, you can significantly reduce the chances of an accident occurring.

Using Appropriate Fuel

Using the appropriate type of fuel for fuel-burning space heaters is essential. Different heaters require different types of fuel, and using the wrong type can cause a fire or an explosion. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines regarding the type of fuel to use for your specific space heater.

Fireplace Safety Measures

If you have a fireplace in your home, it’s important to take proper safety measures. Ensure that the fireplace has a sturdy screen to prevent embers from flying into the room and potentially causing a fire. Additionally, always make sure that ashes are cool before placing them in a bin for removal to prevent accidental fires.

Importance of Chimney Inspection and Cleaning

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Regular chimney inspection and cleaning are crucial for preventing fires. Creosote buildup, a highly combustible substance, can accumulate in chimneys over time and ignite, causing a dangerous chimney fire. Therefore, it is recommended to have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional at least once a year to ensure its safe operation.

Qualified Professional Services

When it comes to chimney inspection and cleaning, it’s important to seek the services of a qualified professional. They have the expertise and knowledge to thoroughly inspect and clean your chimney, removing any potential fire hazards. Hiring a professional gives you peace of mind knowing that your chimney is safe and ready to use.

As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers

Proper Disposal of Fireplace Ashes

Ensuring Coolness of Ashes

Before removing fireplace ashes, it’s crucial to ensure that they are completely cool. Hot or warm ashes can start a fire if placed in a combustible container or accidentally come into contact with flammable materials. Allow ashes to cool for at least 24 hours before attempting to dispose of them.

Using Bin for Removal

To safely dispose of fireplace ashes, use a metal or non-combustible bin specifically designed for this purpose. This will help prevent accidental fires and ensure that the ashes are properly contained. Remember to place the bin in an area away from anything flammable and always follow local regulations for ash disposal.

Importance of Home Fire Safety

Importance of Prevention

Preventing fires should be a top priority for every homeowner. Understanding the potential risks and taking the necessary precautions can significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring. By following safety practices and investing in regular maintenance, you can keep your home and your loved ones safe.

Protecting Lives and Property

Home fires can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of life and property. Taking steps to ensure fire safety not only protects your life but also helps safeguard your valuable belongings. By implementing preventive measures and being vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risk of a fire and its potential impact.

As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers


Using space heaters to combat the cold weather can be a convenient and effective solution. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential dangers associated with these devices. Preventing house fires caused by heating equipment should be a priority for every homeowner. By following safety practices, avoiding common mistakes, and investing in professional services, you can ensure the safety of your home and loved ones. Remember, taking the necessary precautions and being proactive is key to preventing devastating fires and protecting what matters most.

As temperatures drop, fire officials warn of space heater dangers

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