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On Call: Space-Heater Dangers

Q. When it's cold, we put upright space heaters in our sons' rooms. Is this dangerous?

A.
Yes! I can certainly understand the temptation; I live in a drafty old house in New England, and it can get chilly inside. But space heaters are far from safe. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 1999 and 2002 there were nearly 10,000 residential fires in the U.S. associated with space heaters each year. It's not just the fires that make them dangerous: Every year more than 5,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for burns from coming in contact with space heaters.

In general, children don't need to wear any more layers than you do to stay warm, so if your boys are comfortable and have on a reasonable amount of clothing, they should be fine. If they complain that they're cold, footie pajamas, good old-fashioned blankets (though not the electric kind, which are also fire hazards!), and some cuddles from you should get them toasty again.

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