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As the bone-chilling cold of winter grips the nation, many Americans take to alternative heating sources to keep their homes warmer and save on expensive heating bills — but families using these heating sources should proceed with caution. On Feb. 15, Nationwide Insurance demonstrated a “live bedroom burn” at the Nationwide Brand New Belongings Burn House outside of Columbus, Ohio, to show the dangers and devastation of space heater home fires.

The Space Heater Risk

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home space heater fires are involved in 19,300 home fires annually. Half of all home heating fires occur during the cold winter months of December, January and February. In fact, space heaters accounted for one-third (32 percent) of home heating fires and four out of five (80 percent) of home heating fire deaths.

These types of fires are not only common, but can be extremely costly. Over the past five years (2008 – 2012), Nationwide paid more than $48 million in claims related to space heaters, with the average claim topping more than $40,000.

“At Nationwide we’re committed to keeping our members safe and protecting what matters most to them,” said Pete Lore, Nationwide’s associate vice president of Claims. “That’s why we participate in mock burns so that we can offer safety tips to our members based on what we see. Additionally, we look at coverage options families would need to make their house a home after devastation like fire. With Brand New Belongings, our members can focus on their own safety because they know we will repair or replace covered property with a comparable new item without any deduction for depreciation.”

The demonstration showed the speed at which fires can start and spread. According to research by NFPA, one-third of American households estimate they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening. In reality, families have as little as three minutes to escape safely after the alarm sounds.

“With dropping winter temperatures, often the first thought is how to keep your family warm,” said Tom Stewart, fire chief, Orange Township Fire Department. “It is important to make sure safety is a key component—alternative heating can be a cost efficient way to provide warmth to your family, but only if used correctly.”

Space Heater Safety Tips Infographic

Did you know that space heater fires make up half of all winter home heating fires? Learn a few interesting statistics about space heater fires, and the steps you and your family can take to avoid them. Space heater safety is simple when you follow the precautions listed in the infographic below.

Space heater safety infographic.
Posted 6:10 PM

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