Because heating is the second leading cause of house fires, the Hannibal Fire Department has offered advice about preventing these structure fires.
HFD Engineer Sean McHargue, who serves as Assistant Public Education Coordinator, provided the following tips about using portable space heaters:
• Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Never use an extension cord or power strips. Make sure a space heater has an automatic shut-off. If it tips over, it should shut off automatically.
• All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources.
McHargue reported it is easy to overlook carbon monoxide detectors, with a majority of the focus being on smoke detectors, but these can be just as important as smoke detectors in regard to safety.
He advised to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Test CO detectors at least once a month. CO is called the "invisible killer" because it’s a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. Breathing in CO at high levels can be fatal.
Also, he said, fireplaces can be an efficient way to heat a home, but be sure to take the following into consideration before lighting that fire.
• Have a qualified professional clean and inspect the chimney and vents every year.
• Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep it outside at least 10 feet from the home and any nearby buildings.