Experts share advice on radiator safety and fire prevention

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SOUTHEAST NC (WECT) – Colder temperatures will force many families to use portable heaters to keep their homes warm. However, these heaters can be dangerous if they malfunction or are not used properly.

A heater can be small, but when not used properly, the fire it starts can destroy an entire home.

“It can really happen to anyone,” said James Jarvis, executive director of the Cape Fear section of the Red Cross.

Jarvis also said that nearly three in four fire-related deaths occur in cases where portable heaters are used.

After a fire in Tabor City on Sunday night, investigators said a nine-year-old girl turned on a heater in her bedroom before falling asleep. She woke up to the room full of flames.

“When she woke up she noticed as she looked around the door that there was a heater sitting there. The heater was burning and the fire was actually climbing up the wall and starting to penetrate the ceiling, ”said Shannon Blackmon, Columbus County Fire Marshal.

James Jarvis of the Red Cross says heaters should be installed on a hard surface that will not burn. They should also be kept away from children and pets, where they cannot be knocked over.

“The first thing people should do if they get a radiator is recognize that there is space in the name for the reason,” Jarvis said.

Fire Marshal Shannon Blackmon says heaters need at least three feet of space around them. His other warning: never plug a heater into an extension cord.

“They’re designed to plug directly into the outlet on your wall, not pull out extension cords,” Blackmon said. They draw a lot of electricity, you know, so you draw a lot of current through them.

According to the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross, they responded to 32 house fires in the past seven days. They will also help the Tabor City family whenever they all recover.

For more information on Red Cross fire safety, Click here.

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