Guidelines from Fire Marshal to heat your home without creating fire hazards

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In these frigid temperatures, we hope you’re all safe inside somewhere warm. Cold weather in Mississippi can mean house and apartment fires so it’s a good idea to make sure you are using proper heating appliances.

The Mississippi Fire Marshals office reported 16 fire deaths in 2019 all because of heaters not being used properly. Plus another four in 2020 thus far. Tragedies like these can be avoided if you listen to these tips.

If you don’t want to see these guys outside your house don’t let a space heater get too close to flammable objects inside. Like blankets and clothes.

“We say keep three feet between the space heater,” Beth Reiss, the Communications Director for the Fire Marshals office said. “The fireplace, or anything else that might catch a flammable object on fire.”

Always choose an in-wall outlet over extension cords to avoid blowing fuses and causing an electrical fire. Also, check to see if the extension cords are properly certified.

“We encourage you to buy one that is U-L certified with a little more security knowing it’s something that’s been properly inspected,” Reiss added. “Buy one of those space heaters that have a tip-over function so if it takes over it will cut off.”

Around Jackson people gearing up for the bitter cold night were taking notice.

“When it overheats or feels like it’s about to overheat it’s supposed to turn itself off,” Derick Hayes said after buying a heater from Lowes. “I have one but I definitely needed that one because it’s pretty big so hopefully it will warm up my whole living room today.”

Authorities urge everyone to not turn to stoves or propane tanks for heat for several reasons.

“Some people use their ovens to heat their home, you shouldn’t do that,” Reiss told us. “Don’t open the door or turn on the gas to heat the home. Don’t bring grilling units inside, you don’t want to use propane or gas heaters inside because those fumes could put you at risk as well.”

We ran into a man who just bought a propane tank to help power a heater. He told us it was for his backyard shed to keep his dogs warm.

“Windows going to be open so just in case the flames go out and you have gas,” Jimmie Stewart said. “At least you know it’s going out and not staying in like a bomb.”

Authorities also urge everyone to check in on elderly neighbors or anyone in vulnerable positions to make sure they are secure.

If you’re going to rely on your fireplace to heat up the room for the first time in several months, the State Fire Marshals office recommends you get it professionally cleaned and keep a screen blocking any sparks that could ignite carpet or rugs.

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