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Using a space heater or fireplace this winter? Here are some safety tips

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — After a summer of seemingly unending desert heat, it’s now chilly enough to fire up your heater.

Before you plug it in, though, take some time to review safety precautions.

According to a National Fire Prevention Association report, space heaters are the equipment most involved in home heating fires.

Fires caused by space heaters account for 85 percent of civilian deaths and 53 percent of property damage in home heating fires, the report said.

“This time of year, around the holidays or when it is getting colder, people are using their fireplaces and using their space heaters and they do catch on fire because people are not watching,’’ Tracey Fejt, trauma prevention coordinator at Banner Children’s, said in a news release.

“There is a high risk of fire with those and you really have to be careful with them,” she said.

Space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall socket and placed on a flat, steady surface 3 feet away from anything able to catch on fire, Fejt said.

Space heaters aren’t the only heating sources that come with danger.

Thirty-one percent of home heating fires involved a fireplace or chimney, although they accounted for a much smaller percentage of civilian deaths, the report said.

Fejt said people who use fireplaces should remember to remove all flammable items nearby and refrain from hanging decorations like stockings around the fireplace area.

People should also keep children away from fire salts, which can contain heavy metals that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting.

Fejt recommended only using seasoned and dried wood for fires and putting up a screen to protect against sparks.

And, just as with a space heater, never leave a fire unattended, she said.

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