NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — There have not been a lot of people buying heaters at ACE Home Center in Norwich this week. But with the frigid temperatures expected overnight, firefighters say they expect more will be used throughout the city and that they can be dangerous if precautions are not taken.
If you purchase a space heater, you will want to make sure there is a clear three feet of space surrounding it with nothing combustible within that area.
“Make sure we plug it directly into an outlet. No extension cords in between and no plug strips. Plug strips are not designed for that. They’re designed for a lower voltage use,” said Captain Mark Gilot with the Norwich Fire Marshal’s Office.
Gilot said the Norwich Fire Marshal’s Office investigates an average of 80 fires a year and space heaters are a concern, especially when the weather turns extremely cold. The recent fire in New York was reportedly started when a space heater set a mattress on fire.
“It’s something that is very dangerous and it has to be looked at,” Gilot said.
He wants people to keep safe as they are trying to keep warm this week. Along with electric heaters, kerosene and propane heaters can also be dangerous and they are illegal in multi-family houses.
Gilot said you should only be using a heater that has an automatic shut-off safety feature in case it tips over. Additionally, never use an extension cord or power strip with a heater. He said they cannot handle the amperage needed by an appliance which generates heat like a heater or even a microwave or coffeemaker, and will overheat.
“We have had fires due to those circumstances,” Gilot said. “There was too much amperage on that device.”
Even if you are not using an extension cord, you have to make sure you do not put any of those power cords underneath a rug.
People might do that so they don’t trip over them but they also generate heat and that rug will hold it in, so that can also be dangerous.