Tulsa Firefighters: Alternate Heat Sources Could Spell Disaster This Winter

Friday, October 27th 2017, 9:18 pm

Friday will be the first night a lot of people turn on their heat. 

And despite the dangers, some choose cheaper, alternative ways to stay warm, like space heaters. 

Firefighters have some advice they hope you listen to this season. 

It’s talked about every year, but that's because time and time again, crews are called out to deadly house fires because of space heaters. 

Firefighters say the key to prevention is as simple as knowing what to do and what not to do.

"This next month or two is pretty tough. People just aren't ready," said Captain Stan May with the Tulsa Fire Department. 

Tulsa fire crews say they want to prevent calls the one they received last December.

A man was critically injured after a space heater sparked the flames at his home on East Zion.

"The first thing we need to do is make sure that you've had your heating equipment checked out so you don't need to use a space heater," said May

If you do, Captain May says to plug it directly into a wall, not an extension cord. 

Also, check that it's up-to-date and that the cord isn't cracked. 

"That cracking and that insulation is going to let heat out and eventually a spark out, and that's where we see a lot of fires," May said. 

Keep the unit 3 feet away from drapes, carpet, furniture and other combustibles and make sure it has a tip-over switch. 

"If anyone has children or pets, they will get knocked over," said May.

Firefighters also say a big concern is people using ovens and stovetops as a heating source, especially units that run on gas. 

"They're designed to run for an hour or two at a time, while you're cooking a meal."

Tulsa fire investigators say this dangerous method is what killed an elderly woman in December. 

An extra risk is carbon monoxide poisoning. 
"They're not vented, so you're putting carbon monoxide into your house, continuously, for hours on end so it's going to build up. Especially in the winter when you keep that house closed up," May said. 

Tonight's freeze is a good reminder to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Firefighters say any space heater that uses fuel is a no-go. 

You should also make sure to clean out your chimney before using your fireplace and get a professional to inspect your furnace. 

It's a small price to pay to potentially save a life.