Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

Use Portable Heaters and Fireplaces with Caution

As we try to warm ourselves from the cold temperatures, using a portable heating appliance and/or a fireplace does the job, but they need to be used with caution. The Bakersfield Fire Department continues to respond to several residential fires caused by such heating appliances. Bakersfield firefighters hope that you will keep the following concerns in mind.

Portable Heater Safety Tips:

Portable heaters should be Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed and be equipped with automatic shut off devices if tipped over.

These heaters should be kept in good condition with no frayed wires or accumulation of dust. Small children should never be left unattended in the same room with a portable heater, even for short periods of time.

Any heating appliance should be plugged directly into the wall outlet as opposed to an extension cord.

Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater.

Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Fireplace Safety Tips:

Every fireplace should have a sturdy screen across the front to prevent embers from flying or logs from rolling out.

A spark arrestor across the top of a chimney will prevent sparks from igniting your roof or your neighbor's roof. Combustible items, including extra firewood, should be kept at least three feet from the fireplace opening.

If you use manufactured logs in your fireplace, follow package directions carefully. Do not attempt to modify manufactured logs or use them in any way other than intended by the manufacturer.

Never use gasoline, kerosene, or any other type of flammable liquid to start a fireplace fire.

The fireplace is no place to burn gift wrappings, trash, or other debris. Burning these items can create hazards, release toxic fumes, or cause excessive heat buildup that may damage the fireplace. When clearing ashes from the fireplace, be sure to put them into a metal container with a lid never directly into a cardboard box or trash bag. Otherwise, the embers are capable of smoldering for days with potentially disastrous results.

The chimney should be cleaned by a qualified professional at least once a year more if it is used extensively. Chimney sweeps can be found in the yellow pages.

Information supplied courtesy of Bakersfield City Fire Department. For more information and additional safety tips from the Bakersfield Fire Department, please visit

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