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These space heater safety tips could save your life

Space heaters are a convenient way to keep warm during winter. But that convenience comes with the risk of house fires that could have dire consequences.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With a winter storm bringing ice, sleet and snow to the Charlotte area this weekend, you may be looking for some extra ways to keep your family warm, including a space heater. 

While space heaters might keep you toasty, they come with a few risks you should know about. 

Let's connect the dots

Experts say a space heater may not be the best option to keep warm during the cold weather. Officials say a flawed space heater sparked a deadly fire in New York City last week, killing 17 people. Recent data shows 81% of home heating fire deaths involved stationary or portable space heaters. 

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So if you're using a space heater, set it up safely

Keep it at least three feet away from anything flammable, like curtains, bedding and upholstered furniture.

And always turn it off when you go to bed or leave the room. Plug space heaters directly into the wall, never use a power strip. 

Fire officials say a surge protector may not be equipped to handle the power needed for the space heater and could cause a fire if it becomes overwhelmed. 

And finally, only use space heaters with a tag from an approved testing lab. 

The cautionary tips may seem a little over the top when you're cold, but they could end up saving your life. 


Experts say gas-fueled heating sources like generators can also be risky to use due to the threat of carbon monoxide.

“You can’t smell it," Huntersville Fire Department spokesperson Bill Suthard said. "It’s a deadly, silent killer and the best defense for that is a functioning carbon monoxide alarm in your home.”

It's also recommended that you keep the generator running far away from your home. In the case of a power outage, the use of candles and fireplaces also call for additional preparation too.

“Test your smoke alarms and test your CO alarms and make sure you have fresh batteries in there," Suthard said.

Contact Ben Thompson at bthompson@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and InstagramContact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. 

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