Space heater alert: Fire departments and experts warn of dangers, offer tips

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Firefighters are warning people to be careful when it comes to space heaters. The National Fire Protection Association says 79 percent of home heating fire deaths involved space heaters.

Last weekend in St. Louis, a fire took the lives of three children. Firefighters believe a space heater sparked the blaze. 

Tricia Roberts with the Overland Park Fire Department said, "Every 30 seconds to one minute a fire can double in size, so you have about an average of three minutes to get out."

Roberts says space heaters need space.

Safety tips for space heaters from Overland Park firefighters:

  • Give them at least a three-foot clearance from anything flammable.
  • It is also safer to plug a space heater in directly to the outlet; don't use an extension cord because space heaters use too much energy.
  • Buy a new heater that will shut off when tipped over and keeps cool with a ceramic surface.
  • Turn it off when you go to bed or aren't in the room.

Different types of smoke detectors

Remember to have a working smoke detector.

Some do more than beep. For children who are heavy sleepers, parents can record a voice alert for their children in some detectors because some children wake up faster to the sound of a relative.

And, for the hearing impaired, some detectors will also use strobe lights and rattle the bed if a fire occurs.

Consumer Reports Top 5 Small Space Heaters

The ratings are based on temperature control, safety, noise and ease of use. The score ranks the space heaters from 0 to 100 with 100 being the best.

  • Dyson AM09 - 91 out of 100
  • Vornado TVH600 - 88 out of 100
  • Dyson AM05 - 81 out of 100
  • Heat Storm Mojave - 78 out of 100
  • Vornado ATH1 - 76 out of 100

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Amy Hawley can be reached at amy.hawley@kshb.com.

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