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Fire expert warns about the dangers of space heaters, what not to do if you're using one

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Posted at 10:56 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 23:23:11-05

ELYRIA, Ohio — Residents of Crystal Tower apartment in East Cleveland have working heat in the high-rise apartment, according to the building’s management. But that wasn’t the case earlier this week, many tenants told News 5 they had to resort to using space heaters, ovens, and blow dryers to keep themselves warm.

It’s a predicament that some people may find themselves in as the temperature in Northeast Ohio continues to drop.

Joe Pronesti is Elyria’s Fire Chief. He told News 5 there are precautions people should take if they have to resort to using a space heater.

  • Keep it away from anything flammable.

“Do not keep it up close to your bed, or your bedding, or sheets where they may fall over in the middle of the night onto that,” he said that includes placing it close to furniture like your couch or chairs. “The heat just keeps building and building in that furnishing until they can't take anymore and it ignites.”

  • Never leave it unattended.
  • Put it out of reach from kids or pets that can tip it over.
  • Never plug it into an extension cord.

“Use a newer style that's going to have safety mechanisms in place. Do not power them with extension cords. If you leave the room, shut it off,” said Pronesti. “The electrical infrastructure of most homes, they can't take a lot of space heaters going at once. You cannot have a space heater hooked up with an extension cord. It's just a problem waiting to happen.”

  • Look for newer models that have an automatic shut-off when it reaches a certain temperature or tips over.

Pronesti said if you’re ever in a position where you want to use your oven or your stove for warmth, don’t.

“You’re going to have issues with incomplete combustion that causes carbon monoxide issues, that is just an absolute do not use your stove or oven to heat your home,” he said.