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Officials warn of the dangers of portable space heaters

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IDAHO FALLS — Portable space heaters are one of the leading causes of house fires. During the colder winter months, many folks in eastern Idaho turn to portable heaters to stay warm.
But portable heaters can be hazardous when unattended, as they have the potential to create major fires.
“We’ve seen several instances where people are using space heaters as a permanent heat source,” said Idaho Falls Fire Department Fire Marshal Scott Grimmett. “Space heaters should only be used as a temporary heat source and are unsafe for prolonged periods. Using them throughout the home as a permanent heat source in place of regular utilities may overload the circuit and is dangerous.”
Blake Judy and Nate Judy work for Tobin Restoration. They have seen the devastation caused by portable heaters several times throughout their careers.
“The ones we deal with are where people get lazy or complacent with their belongings. We’ve seen piles of laundry up against the space heater. It can smolder and then eventually turn into flames,” said Nate Judy.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2016 to 2020, portable heaters caused 480 deaths and accounted for 13% of all home fires in the United States.
Blake Judy says Idaho Falls infrastructure encourages the use of electrical heating, “with the hydro-power plants on the river, we have a lot of electrical heat sources because power is cheap.”
But the cost to restore your home after a portable heater fire isn’t so cheap. Restoration prices can range from ten thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“That smoke can get into wall cavities. The fire department comes into the house with water. A lot of people don’t think about that. That water goes into the basement and causes even more damage,” said Nate Judy.
Blake Judy says up-to-date homeowners insurance covers a lot of the damage, but it is always better to not have to rely on it. “You’re usually not thinking about the consequences that can come from not being responsible with those things and it can add up fast and be detrimental to a family.”
The Idaho Falls Fire Department recently reminded the public of the dangers of portable heaters in a Facebook post. As you heat your home this winter, keep these tips in mind:

Never use ovens or space heaters as primary sources of heat.
If using a space heater for additional temporary warmth: Plug the heater directly into the outlet. Avoid extension cords.
Never leave the heater unattended.
Keep children and pets away from the space heater.
Place the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire easily, such as curtains, blankets, newspapers, clothing, etc.
Turn the space heater off when leaving a room or going to sleep.
Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or to thaw pipes.

Tobin Restoration hopes people in our area will be responsible with their home heating. “A little negligence can turn into a lot of money and a lot of time out of your home.” said Nate Judy.
For more information about how to safely heat your home this winter, click here.
The post Officials warn of the dangers of portable space heaters appeared first on East Idaho News.

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