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Macon-Bibb firefighter offers lifesaving tips for using space heaters this cold weekend

Macon-Bibb firefighters say they've gone out on about four fires in the last two months tied to space heaters.

MACON, Ga. — With this weekend's frigid temps on the way, some of you may be setting up a space heater, so it's important to make sure you're also staying safe.

Macon-Bibb firefighters say they've gone out on about four fires in the last two months tied to space heaters.

Here's how you can make sure your family doesn't add on to that total.

Amber Bazile came home to a scary situation.

"I opened the door and there was just black smoke all through the house," she recalled.

The Baziles don't have central heat and air. They must rely on space heaters to make their trailer comfortable.

Amber says the heaters give her anxiety, especially with a baby in the house.

"I don't want to think of a house fire, but the possibility is there, especially using space heaters, but it could have been on fire if I hadn't come home," she calculated.

Jeremy Webb is with the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department. 

"Space heaters pull a lot of current, which can cause that outlet to overheat or arc or cause some sort of fire emergency," he explained.

He'll never forget a space heater fire that he went out on.

"The space heater was beside the bed, and they woke up and the covers was on fire, their clothes was on fire," he said somberly.

To avoid what could become a deadly situation, follow these tips.

  • Don't go to sleep with the machine on.
  • Keep it at least three feet away from walls, draperies, or bedding.
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  • Do not plug your space heater in with an extension cord.

"We have daisy-chaining -- people use extension cord after extension cord after extension cord, and that can cause overheating," Webb said.

Even with those tips, you still want to monitor your machine. Things can still happen, so have a plan.

"We've got smoke detectors -- I've got two or three in each room. If there is any type of smoke, I hope one of them goes off," Bazile said.

That's a smart move. You should have a plan of escape that everyone's aware of if you do use space heaters.

Here are a few more suggestions from the National Fire Protection Association.

They advise to never block an exit with a space heater.  Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic, and if you prop it up on something, to keep it away from those draperies or bedding make sure it's a flat, safe surface.

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