Space heater fires a deadly concern in winter; fire officials offer tips

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COLUMBIA –  Space heaters are one of the leading causes of fire in the country, according to CFD Assistant Fire Chief Brad Fraizer.

"Columbia is no different,” he said.

Nationwide Insurance reports 80 percent of deaths related to home heating fires are caused by space heaters. There was a spate of space heater fires in Missouri two years ago and 7 people died in 5 days. 

Fraizer said there are ways to avoid space heater fires:

  • Keep combustibles at least three feet away from the heater
  • Make sure the cord to the space heater isn’t frayed
  • Keep the heater on level ground to avoid tipping over
  • Don’t plug it into a power switch
  • Don’t leave it unattended  
  • Don’t use it as a primary heat source
  • Don’t let children operate it

Columbia resident Jazmyn Ferguson just purchased her first space heater and said she is taking precautions.

“I’ve heard some bad stories about space heaters catching on fire,” she said. “So, I made sure to read through those instructions before first using it.”  

Ferguson’s space heater is pretty up-to-date. Fraizer said modern heaters have great safety features but can still be dangerous if not used properly. 

Ferguson said her heater has temperature settings and she usually keeps it on low to avoid overheating.