Photo courtesy of Paul.Carroll via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
It has been crazy cold in Chicago this winter. How cold? The coldest winter in at least 30 years. Cold enough for the phrase “polar vortex” to enter everyday conversations. Cold enough that you probably braved your apartment building’s storage area weeks ago to pull out your heaviest sweaters and the really big winter comforter.
It’s also cold enough that even if you have never used a space heater in your apartment before, you may have bought one this year. After all, hardware stores that sell space heaters and other winter supplies are expected to be among the retail winners this winter.
But while you are focused on staying warm, don’t lose your focus on being safe. According to the Illinois State Fire Marshal, there were 67 home fires in Illinois in 2012 that were caused by “alternative heaters.”
There are several tips to remember for staying safe when you are using a space heater. FEMA even has a nice short video summary.
The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend that people use space heaters, but knows that they do. The CFD has some suggestions for staying safe. So does FEMA. And the National Fire Prevention Association also offers this advice:
With the right preparation, staying warm should be safe for the rest of the winter, with the only fires heating hot chocolate, cooking a warming dinner or providing a glow in the fireplace.