The first day of winter is next week (Wednesday) and some fire officials fear more house fires will flare up in Iowa during the season ahead as high natural gas prices force people to find alternative heating sources. Mike Spadt, a fire prevention expert, says if you are shopping for a space heater, check the manufacturers’ tag.
Make sure it’s been approved by Underwriters Laboratories and has had a good review and is as safe as it can be.
Spadt says space heaters can be very useful and convenient, but they can also be deadly. He urges you to read the directions fully and use the proper fuel, if it’s not an electric model. Spadt says look for one safety feature in particular, an automatic shutoff in case it gets tipped over. Also, keep all combustibles away from the space heater, everything from newspapers, rugs and draperies to beds and clothing.
For Iowans who might use the fireplace for warmth, Spadt says it’s not wise to start a roaring fire in the fireplace without first having the chimney cleaned. Chimneys that are built up with creosote can get hot and start a fire in the chase area and lead to an attic fire. Spadt says to get the chimney cleaned at least once a year. He also advises common sense in the burning of holiday candles and in plugging in all of those colored lights.