PG&E urges customers to be careful with space heaters

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S., and almost half of these fires occur between December and February, Pacific Gas and Electric officials warned customers Sunday.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment accounted for 56,000 structure fires each year between 2009 and 2013.

“We want our customers to be warm this winter, but most

importantly we want them to be safe,” Jake Zigelman, Director of Local Customer Experience at PG&E, said in a statement.

“Space heaters should only be used as a supplemental source of heat. They are not intended to replace the home’s central heating system and, when not used properly, can create serious safety hazards,” Zigelman said.

Electric heating devices like space heaters can cause fires if not monitored. Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves and water heaters carry a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if they malfunction, Zigelman said.

Space heater fires most often occur when heating equipment is too close to flammable objects like furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

PG&E officials recommended that customers place space heaters on level, hard, nonflammable surfaces instead of rugs or carpets.

Officials said that it’s not safe to put objects on space heaters or to use them to dry clothes or shoes, and reminded residents that space heaters should be turned off when leaving the room or going to sleep.