Noble McIntyre on March 30, 2011
On January 31, 2009 a young mother in Healdton, Oklahoma put her two year old son and one year old daughter to sleep. It was a cold night and the rental home had recently experienced lost heat and the situation had not yet been repaired by the landlord. In order to keep her young family warm, the children’s father had purchased a space heater at a local Wal-Mart. At 9 o’clock a fire broke out in the family living room. The small home was quickly engulfed in flames. The young mother and her two young children were tragically killed in the fire.
Fire investigators indicated the fire started in the living room and was caused by a space heater. “It did not have the automatic shut-off, and then tipped over, and ensuing it continued to get hot and the materials underneath it get hot, and the fire started from there,” said investigators. This tragic event ended the lives of a young woman and her children. It ended the lives of my clients.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 1994, electric space heaters were associated with 2,400 fires resulting in 80 deaths, 240 injuries and $48.2 million in property loss. While safety tips may not eliminate all of the fire, deaths and damages because some space heaters are simply defective, many can be prevented by following a few important safety tips.
Even though electric space heaters don’t have an open flame, the heating elements of some types of electric heaters are hot enough to ignite nearby combustibles like draperies, paper, clothing, furniture and flammable liquids. It is, therefore, important to check surrounding objects periodically to see if they feel hot. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to see how far the heater should be placed from combustible materials, and for how far the heater should be placed from the floor so that carpeting or flooring materials don’t ignite.
Additionally, to prevent electrocutions, always keep portable electric heaters away from water, never use them in a bathroom or near a sink. (If you must use an appliance near water, always use a ground fault circuit interrupter).
CPSC recommends the following when selecting an electric heater:
McIntyre Law knows firsthand the pain and anguish caused by a loved one. We hope for nothing but the health and safety of all our friends and clients. Please follow these safety tips. They may save your life.