The Bayonet

Wednesday, Feb. 05, 2014

Space heaters can pose safety risk, must be approved

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With the cool temperatures of winter, Fort Benning community members often seek ways to keep warm while performing their daily duties.

Space heaters are a popular means of keeping warm, but Steven Lowell, Fort Benning’s assistant fire chief of fire prevention, said safety should be first priority when using the heaters.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, causing more than 300 deaths.

An estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Room gas heaters, portable kerosene heaters and portable electric heaters have the highest risk of death and injuries, including non-fire related deaths due to carbon monoxide. Heating equipment is leading causes of home fires during the months of December, January and February and trails only cooking equipment in home fires year round.

While there are risks associated with the use of space heaters, employees on Fort Benning are allowed to use them.

“Employees are allowed to have space heaters, but they must be approved by the Directorate of Public Works,” Lowell said.

Lowell said the following safety tips could help to prevent heater-related fires: • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. • Have a three-foot child- and pet-free zone around open fires and space heaters. • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters. • Finally, be sure to check smoke alarms monthly.

To have your space heater approved by DPW, contact Robert Chaplin at 706-545-1640 or robert.w.chaplin2.ctr@mail.mil.

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