Preventing heater-related fires

It's an issue firefighters deal with at around this time every year. House fires sparked by heating sources like space heaters or heat lamps.

Firefighters say those heaters should always be at least three feet away from anything that could catch on fire, and they should never be plugged into an extension cord.

Routinely inspect the power cord for frays or bite marks from animals.

Never throw a rug over space heater cords, even if it's to help prevent someone from tripping over it. Firefighters say that traps heat in the cord, and that can spark a fire.

We spoke with Lieutenant Frank Shaw with the Andover Fire Department. He says it's not just electric space heaters causing fires, he sees kerosene heaters and even generators and ovens used as heat sources.

"I think in some situations, people use almost anything when they need heat," Lt. Shaw told us. "Obviously it's important that they have heat in these super cold frigid months. It's challenging for your heaters to keep up or if they can't afford to pay the heating bill so they just plug in anything to warm up."

Lt. Shaw says if you're struggling to afford a safe way to heat your home, you can contact your local fire department, and they will connect you with community resources.

One of those resources is the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. You can apply for that through DCF using the link below.

The deadline to apply for LIEAP is March 29.