As the winter months go by and the temperature continues to drop, more and more households turn to portable heaters of various kinds to supplement their home heating systems. The sad truth is that many of those space heaters—intended to keep those families warm and comfortable on cold winter days and nights—end up causing fatal fires. Tekamah Fire and Rescue Association wants you to be warm but safe.

—Use only a heater that has a safety device to switch it off automatically if it tips over. Make sure it has the UL label, showing it has passed important safety tests.

—Check the cord of electric heaters before plugging them in to be sure there are no frayed, worn or broken spots. Replace the heater or have an electrician replace the cord. Do not simply tape over the worn spot—it is not enough to prevent fire. Avoid using extension cords with electric heaters. If you must, use a heavy-duty extension cord that can handle the load. Too small a cord will overheat and start a fire.

—Keep all heaters away from anything that might burn: curtains, furniture, bedding, papers and other combustible materials. Keep them at least three feet away. Also, keep electrical heaters away from sinks, tubs, showers and containers of water. Never put heaters in hallways or doorways. They will block your escape in case of fire.

—Keep children and pets away from portable heaters. They can be burned and accidentally start fires.

—Turn heaters off before leaving the house and before going to bed at night. These devices, while convenient, are extremely dangerous and should not be left unattended. It doesn’t make sense to lose your life or your property because of convenience or saving energy.

—Don’t try to heat an entire room with a space heater. Direct the heat toward where you want it by facing the heater in that direction.

With kerosene heaters, use only 1K kerosene. It is clear like water. Any yellow or contaminated kerosene can burn or explode. Never use gasoline or other fuel in a kerosene heater. Always fill the heater outside and keep a window open slightly in the room when a kerosene heater is in use. Kerosene heaters have caused so many fires in recent years that some states have banned their use entirely. If you use one, use extreme caution.

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