BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) — As it gets chillier, you might be considering using a space heater to warm up a room in your house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, they’re the leading cause of heating fire deaths.
Earlier this week, a woman was killed in a fire at her home on Auburndale. Investigators say she was filling a space heater with kerosene when it happened.
Youngstown Battalion Chief John Lightly said the biggest issue he sees is putting space heaters too close to bedding and clothing. Even if it doesn’t tip over, the heat can still catch these materials on fire. If you have a kerosene or oil heater be sure to store that fluid outside.
“If the space heater were to catch fire or even some other accidental cause of the fire, the fumes from the kerosene will reach a certain point and they will ignite,” Lightly said.
He said even small space heaters can pose a risk in your home.
“The speed of fire is very fast,” Lightly said. “You might think it’s not going to be a big deal and it spreads very quickly.”
That was the case in this fire on Auburndale Avenue on Wednesday. Though crews responded quickly — flames overtook the home. Lightly says it’s important to make sure those heaters are away from anything flammable.
“It’s slowly going to start heating up the bed, clothing, clothes on the floor, [the] carpet itself, and that can slowly start to smolder,” Lightly said.
He also says often people plug electric heaters into extension cords that can’t handle the power and reminds users to use heaters specifically made for indoor use — especially if they’re oil or kerosene.
“Those produce carbon monoxide fumes, odorless, colorless, tasteless — and those will incapacitate you very quickly,” Lightly said. “You’ll pass out and never wake up.”
Amy Kerrigan with Village Ace Hardware and Pharmacy in New Middletown says there are important safety features to look for when buying a space heater — especially if you have pets and kids.
“I recommend always going with a tip-over feature especially when you’re running it inside your home,” Kerrigan said.
Lightly said those struggling to heat their home should turn to other resources besides the constant running of a space heater. Call your local township or city for more information.