Rome, Utica fire chiefs urge safety when using space heaters


Following an arctic blast earlier this week, bitter cold temperatures are expected to make a return this weekend. For many people across the region, space heaters will provide a way to ward off winter’s frigid onslaught.

And, while space heaters are often used to supplement a home’s built-in heating system — there is danger with any powerful, electric heat source. A space heater has been blamed for a fatal fire in the Bronx on Jan. 9 that killed 17 people in an apartment complex.

Rome Fire Chief Thomas Iacovissi said that fire is an example for, “how dangerous space heaters can be if used in an unsafe manner.”

“I would like to remind everyone that if you must use a space heater to follow the manufacturer’s instructions,” Iacovissi said.

Chief Iacovissi and Utica Fire Chief Scott Ingersoll released the following safety tips for space heaters:

Keep the heater at least 3-feet away from anything that can burn, including people;

Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection;

Place the heater on a solid, flat surface;

Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over;

Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic. Never block an exit;

Keep children away from the space heater;

Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet — never use an extension cord; and

Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

Both chiefs also urged residents to make sure homes have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that are both properly installed and are in good, working order. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more home fires occur in winter than any other season.

After a few sunny and slightly warmer days Wednesday and today, frigid air is forecast to return to the Mohawk Valley late Friday. After a partly sunny start to the day, temperatures will slowly sink as a breeze from the northwest brings colder air to the region. Overnight lows of around 10 below are expected with wind chill values as low as 25 below.

On Saturday, colder air will pair with partly sunny skies. Highs are likely to only reach zero to 5 above with wind chill values as low as 25 below. Saturday night will again be cold with lows around 10 below. Better conditions are expected on Sunday with mostly sunny skies and highs temperatures to climb into the lower 20s. There is a 50% chance of snow Sunday night with lows of around 10 above.


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