Fire Officials Urge Homeowners to Use Portable Heaters Safely and Correctly

by Roma Vivas
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS- With cooler fall temperatures that may be in our future that means west Texans are cranking up those heaters to keep warm, But West Texans are warned using a heating device incorrectly could mean the worst if you're not careful.

"National statistics always show the number of fires increase during the winter months," Detra White, Fire Marshal with the Odessa Fire Department, said.

Last year, Odessa Fire Marshals investigated more than 160 house fires and many were caused by portable space heaters.

"But the problem that we find is not in the unit itself, it's in the misuse of the unit, they are placed too close to combustible materials," White said.

But with so many options available, which one is the best choice? NewsWest 9 went to Home Depot to find out.

"The big stuff you want to is of course the space, the source depends of where you want it in your house and even what type of house, because everyone has their own preference and how often you are going to use it," Home Depot Assistant Manager, Chris Brown, said.

Brown also says its all about following instructions.

"You want to make sure, if anything, it's in a center of a room or even if it's going to have be in a corner, you are not going to have blinds swinging by or it's going to be close to anything that's flammable around it, and that if you are ever going to be leaving to make sure to turn it off," Brown said.

And its not just space heaters, fire places and candles should never be left out of sight.  Last week, one Midland family lost their home due to three unattended candles.

"The number of fires from the result of candles has increased drastically over the pass few years, more people are burning candles, they are placing them in areas that are not safe," White said.

It sounds like a broken record, but fire officials say you should always follow the instructions when using any type of portable heater and never leave heating devices, fire places, or candles unattended.