HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Heating devices represent the second leading cause of house fires, and the Hannibal Fire Department is sharing information to help prevent structure fires during the winter months.
Portable heating sources are popular devices to warm homes. A few safety precautions can help prevent fires caused by space heaters.
º Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. Never use an extension cord or power strips.
º Make sure space heaters have an automatic shut-off. If one tips over, it should shut off automatically.
º All heaters need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heat sources.
Hannibal Fire Department also said 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 regards to safety.
º 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.
Fire places can be one way to heat a home, but users should be sure to take the following into consideration before they light that fire.
º Chimneys and vents should be inspected or cleaned by a qualified professional every year.
º Cooled ashes should be stored in a tightly covered metal container and kept outside at least 10 feet from any home or nearby buildings.
More information is available from the Hannibal Fire Department Public Education division at 573-822-4615.