CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - T.J. Martin of the Parma Fire Department has seen his share of fires caused by space heaters.
"We need to get it out to the public that these things are dangerous," said Martin.
This past week alone, there were three fires in Northeast Ohio that investigators said were caused by the popular heating devices. One fire actually took the life a 14-year-old boy.
The National Fire Protection Association says that every year, 25,000 fires are caused by space heaters in the U.S., and that 600 lives are lost every year as a result of the improper use of space heaters.
Space heaters can be safe when used properly though.
- Make sure it is on a non-combustible surface, and that it has the latest safety features like a tip-over switch.
- Make sure nothing is within 3 feet of the space heater.
- Never plug a space heater into a power strip.
"Once it starts up it, it creates a great power demand. If that power strip can't handle the initial power demand, that's what will burn up first," added Martin.
Most importantly, never leave a space heater unattended.
"Never, ever should a space heater be left unattended," said Martin, "That's a recipe for disaster."
Lastly, inspect your space heater to make sure it looks like it's in top notch condition.
“If you are in doubt, throw them away. The $30 you might spend on a space heater is not worth someone’s life,” said Martin.
Martin says make sure your space heater is UL, or Underwriters Laboratory approved.