MILLBURN, NJ - As we prepare for colder weather and snow storms, the Millburn Fire Department is reminding residents to observe safety warnings when using space heaters, heat lamps, and other portable heating devices.

"According to the National Fire Protection Association, in the most recent year for which statistics are available, space heaters caused 18,000 reported home fires, resulting in more than 300 deaths and more than $420 million in property damage," said Millburn Fire Chief Robert Echavarria.  "To keep their families and homes safe, residents are advised to take common-sense safety precautions."

Among the Department's recommendations:

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  • Remember that the first word in space heater is "space." Give heaters plenty of extra space. Items that can burn, such as bedding, paper, furniture, and curtains, should be kept at least three feet away from heating equipment at all times.
  • Avoid putting heaters in an enclosed area, such as a small garage or doghouse.
  • Only plug one heat-causing appliance into an outlet at a time.
  • Keep heaters supervised; turn them off when leaving a room.
  • Never leave a heater running when going to bed.
  • Ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the house, and in good working order.
  • In addition to the guidelines above, read and follow all enclosed instructions from the manufacturer.

In 2015, a home in nearby Morristown was destroyed when a space heater was placed too close to combustibles in a garage. And just this month, in New Hope, Alabama, a man died as a result of a fire caused by a space heater. Although an investigation by fire officials is ongoing, it appears that the heater was placed too close to combustible materials, and was left on when the home's occupants went to sleep.

"Over the past several years, more than 85 percent of fire deaths caused by home heating were caused by space heaters," said Chief Echavarria.  "However, with responsible attention to safety guidelines, preventable tragedies can be avoided, and these devices can be used safely. On behalf of the Fire Department and Township, we extend our best wishes for the safety and comfort of our residents during winter weather."