Firefighters demonstrate space heater danger

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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) -- Firefighters told us they respond to a handful of space heater fires every year in Durant alone.

So we brought them a couple space heaters to find out just how quickly they can ignite.

A warning: don’t try this at home.

“If not used properly they can be dangerous,” Durant Fire Chief Roger Joines said.

We teamed up with the Durant firefighters at the Kiamichi Technology Center for the demo.

Our conclusion: it can take a while for a space heater to ignite, especially with heaters that automatically shut off when they get too hot.

“And that kind of lulls people into a false sense of security,” Durant Fire Marshal Wade Boyd said.

Fire Marshal Wade Boyd said not every space heater is designed that way and when you have combustible items next to the space heater, it can start a fire faster than the heater can turn itself off.

“I know a lot of people will put them in their bedrooms which it may be too close to a bedspread or a blanket or maybe curtains or you know maybe just some clothes that were thrown down,” Fire Chief Roger Joines said.

Boyd recommends turning the space heater off when you are not in the room, especially when you leave the house, plugging the space heater directly into the wall instead of an extension cord and giving your space heater a healthy three feet away from everything else.

He said it’s also important to make sure you have a working smoke detector.

“The smoke kind of disorientates you and puts you to sleep and that’s normally what kills you. It’s not the flames, it’s the smoke,” Boyd said.

Durant firefighters have installed close to 200 smoke detectors in the past year.

Boyd said if you need one, all you have to do it show up to the fire station and they will hook you up for free.

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