HANAHAN, SC (WCSC) - Space heaters are to blame for several Lowcountry house fires. Dec. to February is peak season for heating-related home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Agency.
"The whole house was full of smoke," Kelli Parker said. " was already at my waist."
Parker said her dogs alerted her to the fire in the early morning of New Years Day. According to authorities, both Hanahan and North Charleston Fire Departments responded. While no one was injured, said officials, Parker's home was severely damaged.
"Our house is destroyed," Parker said. "All of our clothes are burned. We've lost everything."
Hanahan Fire Chief Joseph Bowers points to a space heater as the source.
"It appears they were heating the house with space heaters which is not a good thing," Bowers said. "I've seen fires where family members have it right next to the bed, family members throw the blanket right on top of it. They wake up, they're trapped inside the house."
Before plugging in to warm your space, the fire chief advises taking precautions.
"Space heater fires lead to about one third of all structure fires during the winter months, which then leads to about 80 percent of the fires fatalities during the winter months," Bowers said.
Colleton County officials said a Green Pond family was also displaced following a fire in their home Dec. 30. According to Colleton County Fire Chief Barry McRoy, the fire started from a space heater that had been left running and spread to a nearby sofa. "They were lucky they came home when they did. We were able to save the residence and most of their belongings," McRoy said.
"The key to it is make sure you have a minimum of three feet clearance all the way around,"
Bowers said. "If you leave the room, turn it off. Make sure kids aren't playing around where they can knock it over."
Officials also said users should remain awake while heaters are running.
"If you're going to sleep, you need to turn them off," Bowers said. "Space heaters are just really meant to knock the chill off for a room you're in. It's not made to heat the entire house."
North Charleston Fire Department also recommends the following tips for safely heating your home this winter:
- Do not use your oven to heat your home. It is not designed as a heater. It can easily cause a fire.
- Placing any space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable, furniture, drapes, clothes, pets and people.
- Stay awake with heaters. When you are ready for bed or a nap add blankets and extinguish or turn off the heater.
- If you leave the room or the house turn it off.
- Do not run electrical heaters using an extension cord. It pulls too much power and can overload the cord.
- Do not run cords under rugs or furniture, they will become damaged over time.
- If using a fuel fire appliance please follow all instructions. Many require it to be filled outside the home and to be. Sought back inside.
- Ensure your smoke alarms are working and if using any fuel appliance or fireplace have a functioning carbon monoxide alarm as well.