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Portable heaters demand safety measures

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Winter is upon us as temperatures are dropping across the country. But before you pull out those portable heaters, there are some safety measures you'll want to take. It's a scene firefighters say is all too common this time of year. A space heater being used to keep a home warm, set too close to flammable material. Within seconds there is smoke. A short time later, flames. What happens next often turns deadly. In 2005, firefighters nationwide responded to more than 62,000 structure fires that involved heating equipment. Nearly 700 of them were deadly. Seventy-three Percent of the deaths caused by improperly used space heaters. Some people go to sleep with the space heater running. If a blanket falls off the bed and the fire starts, the consumer doesn't stand a chance. But there are ways to protect yourself and your family. Always place your space heater on a non-flammable surface and keep it at least three feet away from all combustibles. Make sure someone is home while the heater is running and be sure to turn it off when you go to sleep. And if your heater is more than a few years old, replace it with a more modern version. Many models have automatic shut-off if they tip over. And fire officials say there are two things no home should be without: a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. They could save your life this winter.

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