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Tips to avoid the dangers space heaters can bring

6:26 PM, Nov 7, 2011   |    comments
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At least two homes in the metro area have caught fire just in the last five days from home heating appliances.

In the last 10 years, space heaters have come a long way and some that were built years ago may not be safe for your family anymore.

9NEWS asked the experts to bring in some examples of what they have and who they're good for.

They brought in an oil-generated heater, an infrared heater and two electric heaters.

"Basically, the oil heater is a gentle heat. It's not going to dry out the air in your house. And the oil is concealed, it would never leak or start a fire. [The infrared] is good for children because it's always going to be cold to the touch. The elements are housed inside copper so it keeps heat away from the touch. The two electric heaters have ceramic heating elements. They all have an automatic shut off except for the smaller electric heater. So if it falls on the floor, it's not going to shut off," Christy Musch, a heating expert at Home Depot, said.

Musch says if you have an older model space heater there are a few things you should check for.

"First you should look for an automatic shut off. That's important. You should make sure the heat is encased and there are no coils exposed. And you should check the plug. Make sure there are no wires exposed or frayed," Musch said.

Musch says if you don't have all those safety devices on your space heater, it's probably time to get a new one and remind other relatives to do the same.

She also says heat lamps are extremely dangerous and shouldn't be used to heat your home.

In the past year, there have been six recalls of portable space heaters after each one started fires.

The most recent recall in July was for Touch Point Oscillating Ceramic Heaters.

About 13,000 units were recalled after the heaters started two fires that caused property damage.

The Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze & Comfort Essentials Heaters sold at Walmart stores caused the most damage of those recalled in the past year.

There have been 11 reports of damage from that heater, and three people received minor burns from the heater.

For information on each of these recalled products you can call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772.

Some other tips: You should always have three feet of space around all home heating devices.

They should all carry a mark of an independent testing laboratory.

If tipped over, they should automatically turn off.

You should never leave one on if you leave the house or while you're sleeping.

Also, for those of you who have chimneys, you should have those inspected and possibly cleaned every year before you use it.

It is also a good idea to check on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure the batteries are fresh.

Click here for an instructional video from the National Fire Protection Association on space heaters.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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