This past Friday, January 13, 2012, a space heater left too close to a bed caused a fire in a southeast apartment. The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to the apartment fire in the 4400 block of McKinney just before 4 p.m. and arrived on scene within three minutes. Upon arrival, firefighters found a two-story apartment with fire in one unit. Approximately 30 firefighters responded to the incident which was tapped out at 4:14 p.m. There were no reported injuries. The fire caused about $60 thousand in damage. The American Red Cross assisted the displaced residents.
The Houston Fire Department urges citizens to be careful and follow some simple safety tips when using space heaters and other supplemental heating sources. Any shift away from the exclusive use of central heating presents an increased possibility for fire.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.
- Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater - Children knock over space heaters especially if they are placed on top of wobbly tables or stools and near where the children play. Children may also stick paper or toys in the grates of the space heaters especially gas space heaters. The city had two reported fires in 2004 caused by children playing with space heaters.
- Keep all combustible materials, including yourself at least 3 feet from the heater
- Open face heaters should have a screen
- Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Vented Gas / Fired Heating Appliances Tips - Central heating units, floor furnaces, recessed wall heaters, and vented space heaters.
- Inspect annually by a qualified service technician. Don't wait for cold weather!
- Do not use these type units without a proper vent pipe. Vent pipes must exhaust to the outside!
- If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly. It is producing Carbon Monoxide, which can't be seen, smelled or tasted. Turn it off.
- Use flexible metal tubing with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas valve. There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall. Never use a rubber hose to connect a space heater to the gas valve!
- Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test for a gas leak!
- Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper usage.
Electric Heaters Tips
- Never overload outlets or breakers
- Don't use extension cords for the heater. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
- Electric heaters permanently installed in the wall or ceiling should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn!