Space Heaters can be Deadly for Families and Pets

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Space Heaters can be Deadly for Families and Pets

It’s winter and for most of the country, the weather outside is frighteningly cold. Temperatures have taken quite a dip since the first of the year.

With colder temperatures comes more responsibility for the care of our pets.

Pets should be indoors living with their families during extreme cold snaps. When that is not possible, you should provide adequate shelter that will keep them warm.

Unfortunately, for some families, this means bringing pets into storage sheds and garages and providing them with space heaters, which can be just as dangerous and deadly for our four legged family members.

Just this week, a house fire in San Antonio, reportedly caused by a heater used to keep the pets warm in the garage, caused over $200,000 in damage and left both the family and pets homeless.

In Sprigfield, Mo., a fire that began in a storage room where the family was trying to keep their cats warm spread to the attic and caused an estimated $70,000 in damage to the home.

These families both made it out of their homes safely, but at least one cat’s remains were pulled from the scene in the fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA, an average of 3 million winter fires in the U.S. cause more than $3 billion in damage, killing 1,900 people and injuring another 8,000.

January is the month with the most fires and the majority of those fires are caused by heating devices. According to the USFA, 30 percent of all fires during the year happen in January and are caused by families trying to heat their homes.

We live in a rural area in a home originally meant as a summer lake-side home, with only an indoor wood burning stove for the primary heat source. If we are planning to leave, we let the fire go out. Only if it is dangerously cold do we turn on our relatively safe space heater for the dogs.

We typically prefer moving them to the building on our property that has safer central heat.  

If you must use a space heater to help keep your family or pets warm during the winter, follow these safety tips to prevent loss of your property or, in the worst case, a tragedy for you and your four legged family.


Editor’s Note: The above photo is Sade, the author’s dog, enjoying the fire.

Do you use a space heater in a garage, basement, or storage room to help keep your pets warm during the winter?