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AFD: Use caution when using space heaters

News Staff Writer

Things have been relatively quiet for local firefighters lately. And, despite the boredom of spending their days sitting around the firehouse or in training, the firefighters are glad of the lengthy lull.
“We haven’t had a space heater fire this year, not at all, not yet,” said Capt. Daniel Love, Atmore Fire Department’s second in command, as he tapped on a wooden table. “We’ve usually had several by this time each year. Maybe our fire safety education program is working.”
Love said those who use space heaters should exercise extreme caution when doing so.
“If you’re going to use a space heater, there are several things you need to remember,” the fire captain said. “You need to keep the area clear for at least three feet on all sides of the heater, and don’t use an extension cord with it.”
He also cautioned against leaving such heaters on to keep a house warm while no one is home and said to check the heaters to make sure they are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) rated.
He passed on another warning, one that should be obvious.
“Don’t put clothes or other materials on top of or real close to a space heater to dry them or keep them warm,” he cautioned. “We had an incident last year where a woman put a towel on top of her heater to warm it up while she took a shower, and it caught fire.”
Love also reminded residents that when cooking, mind the stove.
“We’ve had a couple of kitchen fires recently,” he said. “People will put food on to cook, then walk off and leave it. You need to keep watch on food that is cooking.”
Finally, he stressed the value of smoke alarms.
“Make sure you have a working smoke alarm, with good batteries, in your house, whether you use a space heater or not,” he said.