COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - Staying warm on a budget can be difficult. With below normal temperatures in our forecast for over a week, firefighters urge people to use common sense while trying to stay warm, especially when using space heaters as a primary source of heat.
Columbus Fire Marshal, Chief Thomas Streeter, says the cold snap has caused people to leave heaters running for extended periods of time, "While they run to the grocery store or even out to work they want to leave the heater running to leave the house warm, they shouldn't do that."
Fire officials warn using a second hand heater from an unreliable source can be deadly.
The Valley Rescue Mission hands out donated heaters to those in need. They do have strict policies for checking the appliances before passing them out.
"If it's a used space heater we have a staff here that will check out the wiring and make sure it is safe to give out and we also plug it in to make sure it is running and working," says Development Director, Joshua McQuien.
A list of safety tips are handed out with every heater the Valley Rescue Mission gives out.
Goodwill officials tell Fox 54 they have test all heaters as well, "Goodwill tests all appliances to ensure that they work properly before putting them on the sales floor."
General safety tips for staying safe begin with simply reading the instructions.
"You always want to read the labels on any heating unit you use. Always keep a watchful eye on the heater and never leave it unattended. Always keep pets and children away from any space heater," warns Chief Streeter.
Even with the colder than normal temperatures, fire officials have not seen a spike in heater related fires.