MARY MEAUX — There are a number of ways to protect your home from fire during the winter

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 29, 2022

The temperature may have climbed up a bit over the last day or so but there’s still plenty of winter weather left.

This also means it’s time for a reminder on safe heating tips.

Let’s look at space heaters first.

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Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson said there are a number of things people need to remember when using a space heater.

The safety tips include keeping the heater (or any other heat source) at least three feet from combustible items and to only plug the heater into an outlet and never use an extension cord.

And always have working smoke detectors in the home, he said.

Other safety tips include making sure your space heater has an automatic shut-off so if it tips over it will shut off, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

  • Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface.
  • Check your space heater for cracked or damaged cords or plugs.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

Other tips for heating the home

  • Never use an oven to heat your home. A gas oven may go out or have some other sort of problem leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. Electric ovens weren’t designed to heat a home.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.
  • If using a fireplace, keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, do not burn paper in the fireplace, put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home and put ashes in a metal container with a lid outside at least 10 feet from your home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. From 2016 to 2020, municipal fire departments responded to an average of 44,210 home structure fires caused by heating equipment.

Going back to the issue of space heaters, I totally understand the need for them. Not everyone has central heat and air in their home, me included. So yes, I use space heaters to help warm my house and I am kind of paranoid with safety.

I’ve written of tragedies before so in no way will I shame someone for an accidental fire.

I just want to make sure people are aware of the safety tips in the hopes of helping others. 

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com