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Tulsa Health Department Space Heater Safety Tips

TULSA, OK – [January 22, 2014] – As temperatures drop, the Tulsa Health Department would like to remind Tulsa County residents of the importance of proper space heater use.

THD recognizes that people may rely on space heaters during cold winter months; however, space heaters are only to be used as temporary heat sources. To minimize danger and potential house fires, THD stresses that space heaters should be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn – especially bedding, paper and clutter.

THD also advises that space heaters should not be connected with extension cords and should be UL Listed.  If a product is UL Listed it means Underwrites Laboratories has tested samples of the product for risk of fire, electric shock and other hazards.

Gas heaters (vented and unvented) may also be harmful if not used properly.  Gas heaters that are not working properly could introduce the toxic gas carbon monoxide into living spaces.  Most gas heaters specify where they can or cannot be used in a specific room.  When used properly gas heat is effective and efficient, but when improperly installed or used they can be deadly. 

Gas cooking stoves should never be used to heat a living space. Any heater or cooking equipment designed to be used outside the home should never be used inside because of the threat of both fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The Tulsa Health Department offers these tips:

If space heaters must be used, keep them three feet from anything that can burn and on a hard floor surface.
Space heaters should also be UL approved and be plugged directly into a wall socket. 
Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, to shut off the heating element if the heater falls over.
Never use a cook stove to heat a living area.
Gas heaters must have safety devices and be approved to be used in some living spaces.
Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Install and maintain smoke detectors in your home.  

The Tulsa Health Department may be able to advise if a heat source is safe or not safe.  For questions regarding your heat source, please contact the environmental division at 918-595-4200.

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