By Fiona Truant | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — Heating equipment is the second most common cause of fires in the home, and half of heater-caused fires occur in December, January and February. During the colder months ahead, the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services from Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, seeks to provide Guardians and Airmen tips to safely use personal heaters at home and at work.
The first step to safe heater use is picking a heater with certain safety features. Do not use a heater that doesn’t have an automatic shutoff device — something that will turn the heater off if it’s tipped over. Avoid a heater that doesn’t have a thermostat control; it should turn itself off if it gets too hot. Look for a heater that has been endorsed by a consumer or product safety certification organization.
“We recommend them to be Underwriters Laboratories listed here in the states, or whatever the host nation’s equivalent is to that,” said Michael Bryant, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. “They test them a little bit better, and they validate them.”
Still, even safe tools must be used safely. Do not run a heater unattended. When a heater is not in use, it should be unplugged. Finally, don’t plug a heater into an extension cord or a multi-outlet extender, as those may overheat or even melt.
“Typically, multi-outlets are rated for computers, scanners and copy machines, things like that,” said Bryant. “They’re not typically ready for the current that a heater needs to produce heat.”
Most heaters will need to be kept at least 36 inches away from other objects when in use, or further, if the manufacturer specifies. Bryant has often seen heaters placed under desks next to a trash can, which is particularly risky, as office trash is often flammable. Make sure the area where a heater is running is clear of anything that’s likely to melt, catch fire or explode. Finally, it’s important to check on general fire safety measures in the home, such as ensuring that all smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are functional.
These tips seem pretty straightforward. But simple things can make the difference when it comes to safety.
“Some folks honestly just don’t know,” said Bryant. “We don’t want anybody to get hurt or killed by missing that piece of education that’s out there.”
For more information, contact the 50th CES Fire & Emergency Services at 719-567-6229.