Nick McWilliams reporting – When adding additional heat sources when a furnace is not cutting it, a local fire department reminds residents to proceed with caution.

Home fires related to improper heater maintenance or poor safety habits with other units such as space heaters or fireplaces cause millions of dollars of damage each winter, putting countless lives at risk.

Captain Brooks Ross with the Dover Fire Department says one of the most common mistakes made relates to outlets where small heaters are plugged into.

“If they’re plugging those space heaters in, possibly using an extension cord, and if they’ve got it plugged into one of those multi-strip outlets, any heating device draws a lot of electricity and it heats things up [quickly.] That’s quite common, so you want to be careful.”

Space and compact mobile heaters account for nearly half of home heating fires each year, with 85 percent of home heating deaths attributed to the devices as well.

Never leave a space heater unattended, and ensure it has been properly turned off and unplugged before going to bed. Keep pets and children away, and make sure flammable materials are at least three feet away.

Information on home fire safety can be found online at www.nfpa.org.

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