Professional Electricians offer advice on safe heating

By: Eric Eckstrom Email
By: Eric Eckstrom Email

Officials with the Kentucky state police say combustible material near an electric heater started a fire killing nine people in the Greenville community of Muhlenberg County on Thursday.
We spoke to professionals and members of "The Electrical Safety Foundation International" (ESFi) on how to avoid such accidents in your own home as the winter months continue.


Life is a precious thing, and recent events remind us that it can be taken away in an instant...

“Electricity is uniquely unforgiving in the sense that if you tangle with it, a lot of times it ends up with a fatality,” says Brett Brenner, president of ESFi.

This is why professional electricians are offering safety tips for using electric Space Heaters as part of an effort to help consumers mitigate the risks.

“If you are heating with any type of a gas or a kerosene Space Heater, you need to make sure it is well ventilated. Keep combustible materials away...anything that would burn easily or ignite,” says Douglas Maggard, owner of Maggard Electric, Inc.

Examples of combustible materials include paper, cloth and cardboard. But experts say it’s safer practice to keep everything at a safe distance.

“a lot of times things are pushed up near them or against them. Typically you want to keep anything three feet that they have room to breathe,” Brenner said.

But no matter what precautions we take, professionals say Space Heaters will always put owners at a greater risk than many other alternatives.

“Heating with Space Heaters is inherently dangerous. Central heat, heat pumps, furnaces and that type of heat is much safer. There’s no chance of getting combustible materials close to the source of heat; it's centralized or concealed and you cannot get around it,” Maggard said.

Professionals say to not plug more than one space heater into a single outlet source, and no matter what you use to heat your home , to make sure your home is equipped with functional smoke detectors.

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