Firefighters warn against attaching space heaters to extension cords
Posted at: 10/17/2012 10:27 PM
| Updated at: 10/17/2012 11:29 PM
By: Don Hudson | WHEC.com
The use of an extension cord is fine if you need to reach a lamp or maybe a house phone. However, it is a fire waiting to happen if attached to a space heater.
In light of the fatal fire and with the weather getting colder, firefighters are issuing a warning.
On Tuesday, a fire broke out at 67 Wilkins Street. 87-year-old Antonio Sotolongo was found unconscious on the second floor. Firefighters were able to get his heart started again, but he later died. Investigators now say the fire was accidental and was started by an overloaded extension cord.
Lieutenant Ted Kuppinger from the Rochester Fire Department said, "The gentleman had an extension cord under his bed, running a heater in the room and the cord was not rated for the heater, so eventually the cord heats up and starts a fire."
That fire claimed the life of an 85-year-old man and sadly, he is not the only victim from these types of fires. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, every year more than 300 people are killed or injured in extension cord fires. Every year 3,300 residential fires are started by extension cords.
Lieutenant Kuppinger said, "If your cord is not big enough to handle what is going through it, it is going to heat up and it's going to eventually melt."
A YouTube video shows what Lieutenant Kuppinger is talking about. Space heaters should never be plugged into extension cords - only directly into outlets. When the cord gets overloaded, or too hot it could be a matter of minutes or a matter of days, but eventually things are going to end badly.
With the colder weather just around the corner, Lieutenant Kuppinger knows more people will be bringing out their heaters and he, along with other fire fighters, hope people will remember not to attach those heaters to an extension cord.
Lieutenant Kuppinger said, "State code says you should only plug in portable heaters directly into an outlet." He continues, "If your cord is not big enough, it is going to conduct and eventually melt."
Lieutenant Kuppinger also suggests everyone check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the year. If you are not sure about any risky issues, call the fire department.
Portable heaters and extension cords are just part of the problem. Firefighters remind all of us that heaters need to be three feet away from anything flammable. With the nine fire related deaths in Rochester this year, they remind everyone to install and check that their smoke detectors are working.