Horry County Fire Rescue sees more calls during colder months for heater fires


HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – With a freeze warning in effect for Myrtle Beach Tuesday, and colder temperatures arriving Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, it’s important that space heaters are used safely.

Horry County Fire Rescue gets an increase in calls during the colder months due to heater-related issues.

“It’s going to get colder later today, people are going to crank up the heaters,” said Horry County Fire Rescue spokesperson Tony Casey. “We just want them to do it as safely as possible.”

Think before you crank your space heater on when the icy temperatures hit.

“This is an adapter that’s been used and it caught fire. I believe in this instance, they got it before the whole house caught fire, but you’re not always going to have that luxury if you leave your house and you have something like this plugged in,” said Casey.

This is the burnt adapter that caused a fire Horry County Fire Rescue recently responded to. If you have a space heater, plug it directly into the wall. Don’t use extension cords or adapters.

Make sure combustibles like blankets or curtains aren’t nearby running space heaters.

“We like a three to four foot rule. If you have that heater out there, make sure nothing else is around,” he reminded. “We’ve responded to fires where there’ve been cardboard nearby, newspaper, an afghan hanging over a couch. All this stuff can catch fire.”

Horry County Fire Rescue responded to 8 heater-related fires last year, they’ve responded to four already in 2019, and the numbers each year have stayed consistent.

The number one thing they encounter? Failure in the first step of using the space heater.

“People are not plugging their heaters directly into the wall. They’re using an extension cord or surge protector which really, really, really increases the chances of that fire starting,” Casey said.

The space heater needs to show it’s listed by a recognized testing laboratory.

If you use a different source of heat like a furnace that’s fueled by a combustible, make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.

If you use a furnace that requires a fuel, or any other form of heating your home besides a space heater, be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector with fresh batteries.

“You can see how this would be if it were on a carpet or a blanket,” said Casey. “Anything nearby could catch fire if this thing goes up like this.”

This extension cord with multiple plug-in spots was overloaded with a space heater and other plug-in items. Don’t plug in a space heater to an extension cord with other electronics.

The most important thing to remember is always turn your space heater off when leaving the room.

If you or anyone you know is in need of a carbon monoxide detector, click here to sign up for one with Horry County Fire Rescue on their Smoke Alarm Request form. Just specify you are in need of a carbon monoxide detector.

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