State Fire Marshal Tim Bean is urging Missourians to be extra cautious heating their homes

State Fire Marshal Tim Bean is urging Missourians to be extra cautious heating their homes as the most frigid temperatures of the season push into the state. Each year, space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of heating fire deaths. Space heaters are the leading cause of home fires in the months of December, January, and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Bean says, “The weather forecast calls for temperatures to plummet across Missouri this week, and we know that fire risks rise dramatically as people turn to supplemental heating sources to keep their homes warm. Many people do not understand the risks space heaters pose when misused, leading to deadly fires that could be prevented.” When temperatures in Missouri plunged in February 2015, space heaters and supplemental heating sources were suspected in seven deaths and six injuries in less than a week. This week temperatures across most of Missouri are expected to drop below zero with wind chill values as low as 30 degrees below zero due to wind gusts as high as 40-50 miles per hour. Fire Marshal Bean stressed two key factors leading to heating fires: not using space heaters and other heating sources as they are designed to be used and not having smoke alarms in their homes. Remember these safety tips whenever heating equipment is used: Turn off portable heaters whenever leaving the room or going to bed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. The three-foot safety zone includes furniture, drapes, Christmas trees, and electronics – anything that can burn. Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters. Do not overload extension cords or outlets. Many extension cords and power strips are not designed to handle the load of an electric heater. Never place an electrical cord under a rug, to prevent the cord from overheating and causing a fire. Never use an oven or other cooking devices to heat your home. Never use an outdoor propane heater indoors.