Alternate heat users need to be aware of potential hazards

As the weather forecasts call for chilly temperatures, the Graves County Office of Emergency Management is offering reminders on keeping safe with alternate heating sources.

Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of heat in a home during cold weather. Unfortunately, they can also pose a significant fire and electric shock hazard if not properly used.

Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters not having adequate safety features, heaters placed near combustible materials, or improperly connected to an outlet.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following tips:

• Make sure your space heater has a label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory;

• Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels carefully;

• Inspect for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater;

• Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater;

• Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.

• Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test them once a month.

• Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.

• Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard;

• Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater;

• Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire;

• Always unplug and safely store the heater when not in use.

For kerosene heaters:

• Follow manufacturer's instructions;

• Use only the correct fuel for your unit;

• Only refuel outdoors and only when the unit is cool;

• keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects;

• When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.

Fire hazards increase in winter due to alternate heating sources being used without following proper safety precautions.