FAIRMONT, W.Va. – As snow falls and the weather gets into the single digits, people are looking to warm up. Space heaters provide quick and easy solutions to chilly areas but can be dangerous if not used correctly.  

Capitan Brian Starn of the Fairmont Fire Department provided several things people should look out for when having a space heater in their home.  

“You always want to keep a three-foot clearance around anything combustible… Bedding especially is very highly combustible blankets those kinds of things, couches,” Starn said.  

Space heater near the bed (Nexstar Media Wire)

Another hazard can be caused by children or pets. Space heaters should be out of the way and in an area where they can’t get knocked over. Additionally, space heaters should always be plugged into outlets never into extension cords or surge protectors.  

“A lot of times those devices aren’t designed to handle that kind of output of electric current so they will overheat and be a source of fire,” Starn said.  

Fires caused by space heaters can get out of control quickly. Starn said the Fairmont Fire Department sees fires caused by space heaters often this time of year. Earlier this month a fire in the Bronx, New York killed 17 people including 8 children. Officials said the cause was the malfunction of a space heater. 

“It was a tragedy and hopefully out of that we can put some more emphasis on safety,” Starn said.  

Another additional heat resource some use is their fireplaces. Each year chimneys should be inspected and cleaned.  

“A lot of time what well encounter is a buildup of creosote which is basically the incomplete combustion of materials from burning and as it builds up into your chimney, it’ll kind of stack up and eventually that stuff will reignite and then you end up with a chimney fire that could spread,” Starn said.  

People should make sure their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly in case danger does happen. 

“Bottom line is if you’re going to employ some kind of auxiliary heat other than your fixed furnace or anything like that you just got to take the necessary precautions,” Starn said.