When it comes to fire hazards, people are reckless. Nobody thinks bad things can happen to them, and some people act like lighting five candles in the living room and then going for a long run could yield positive results. Accidents like these happens daily and firefighters have had enough.
Specifically, Oregon’s Umatilla County Fire District #1. After having embarked on a slew of repetitive rescue missions, its brave firefighters shared the most ridiculous mistakes they’ve encountered — including one you probably made last winter!
Imagine relaxing in the comfort of your own home, cozied up under a fluffy blanket, maybe watching a movie when the pungent smell of black smoke and the piercing sound of an alarm filling the room, panic ensues and the firemen are called.
In December of 2018, one wheelchair-bound Missouri resident heard popping noises in another room, followed by the disturbing visual of smoke slithering throughout his home. Needless to say, he promptly dialed 9-1-1.
As firefighters from the Gravois Fire Protection District rushed to the scene, they tried not to imagine the potentially catastrophic damage awaiting them at the scene. Time was a-ticking.
When they arrived, the adrenaline-fueled firefighters were less than surprised by the demonic device that caused the near catastrophe: they immediately rushed to the wall socket that was the source of the drama, yanking out a damaged heating unit, which went by the name “Heating Hero.”
Yeah, some hero. Thankfully the homeowner was unharmed, but the kind of malfunctioning device he used is one that is pretty common all over the country. Space heaters are more dangerous than they appear.
They’re regularly used improperly, or simply just short circuit, which easily sets pieces of furniture or carpeting aflame. Nothing will warm your chilly dwelling like your living room couch roasting.
A report from the National Fire Protection Association exhibits that heating solutions were the cause of 15 percent of American house fires from 2011 to 2015. Space heaters specifically were behind 43 percent of the fires, but thankfully, some inferno-fighting heroes are trying to fix these hot statistics.
The Umatilla County Fire District #1 saw enough action to know that, on their own, space heaters are problematic. But when paired with a certain evil sidekick, danger is near guaranteed.
The fire district warned that plugging a space heater, which can reach a staggering high of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, directly into an extension cord can result in cataclysm, and its firefighters strategically used the viral powers of Facebook to spread the word.
The frustrated fire district stated, “These [extensions] are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow.” Your best bet is to plug it directly into a wall outlet.
Many power strips unfortunately don’t include a surge protector, so plugging a million contraptions, including a space heater, into these often leads to a melty scenario reminiscent of Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory.
What the average homeowner doesn’t realize is that space heaters run on high wattage, so even when plugged into wall sockets, they’re apt to short-circuit. Essentially, space heaters need to be babysat constantly if you want to avoid burning down your home.
Put simply, people should handle space heaters as they would an electric oven. The only difference between these electric hotties is that the beauty of a space heater involves its portability factor, which electric ovens obviously lack (unless you’re the Hulk).
So, if you wish to carry your space heater around from room to room, make sure you’re cleaning the dust out of all of your home’s wall sockets. Just like apparently everything, dust particles can also ignite and cause house fires.
To take things a step further, the Good Housekeeping Institute’s chief technologist, Rachel Rothman, disclosed to Good Housekeeping that you absolutely should not plug any other electrical appliances into the same outlet as the godforsaken space heater, either.
But remember when we mentioned “the magic of a surge protector?” Well, it’s only fair to say that if you were responsible enough to invest in this safety-first magic, that’s great! Still, surge protector magic doesn’t last forever…
Not to get all sciencey, but surge protectors work by deflecting electrical energy to a “metal oxide varistor,” also known as an MOV, which then takes in the extra voltage. Stick with us.
But MOVs have a lifespan just like anything else, and plugging a high wattage space heater in shortens said lifespan. This, once again, can eventually lead to, you guessed it, lots o’ flames.
There’s no exact time frame for when it’s appropriate to give your surge protector a ceremonial burial. It depends on how many surges happen in your area, as well as the number of joules your protector can absorb. However, it is suggested that you replace them every one to two years.
All in all, these kinds of fires can easily be prevented, which is exactly what the Umatilla County Fire District #1 was trying to drill into the minds of the public. It’s not worth playing Russian roulette with a space heater. But they aren’t the only way you could start a fire in your home, either.
Eighty-three-year-old Ali Mese lived a simple life with his wife and son in a small town in western Turkey. One afternoon, tragedy struck the Mese family, and Ali watched as everything he worked for vanished in the blink of an eye…
One morning, Ali was attempting to light a wood stove in his home so he could cook breakfast. He accidentally poured too much gasoline onto the flame, the entire thing exploded, setting his house on fire. Ali and his family barely made it out alive.
Ali’s neighbors spotted the flames and immediately called for help. Firefighters showed up shortly after and extinguished the inferno, but by the time they were done, all that was left was a smoldering pile of wood.
Ali stared in horror at the remains of his home. He couldn’t believe that, only a few hours earlier, he was standing in his kitchen ready to cook breakfast for his family. Tears streamed down his face at the realization that he and his family were left with nothing.
Everything that remained of his home was unrecognizable and the Mese family was devastated. Not only was the family distraught over the loss of their home, but they’d also owned several cats—and there was no sign of any of them.
The realization that all their beloved animals may have perished was too much for Ali to handle. He felt utterly distraught; his pets were like family members to him. However, among the devastation, there was one shining beacon of hope…
Ali heard a scuffling sound underneath some of the wooden rubble. When he moved closer to the charred wood, one of his cats, Sarikiz, came climbing out from underneath! Ali couldn’t believe his eyes; it was really her!
Ali was dumbfounded by the discovery. How had Sarikiz survived the fire when literally nothing else did? The lucky feline—whose name translates to “blonde girl”—couldn’t stop purring; she was just as happy to see Ali after the terrifying ordeal.
Sarikiz immediately climbed into Ali’s outstretched arms and nestled in. Even though she wasn’t injured, she still needed some kind of comfort after surviving a life-threatening fire.
Ali couldn’t stop kissing Sarikiz and clutching her close to his heart. She was one of his favorite pets, and even though his family was now homeless, he saw her as a sign of hope that things would turn out okay…
Unfortunately, Ali and his family had to leave Sarikiz so they could be rushed to the hospital so they could be treated for minor injuries. Members of the humanitarian group Turkish Red Crescent were there waiting to offer their assistance as well.
The rescue team didn’t come alone, however—they had a big surprise for the Mese family. While Ali and his family were being treated, rescuers brought along Sarikiz! They cleaned her up and fed her a proper meal so she could be permanently reunited with her owners.
The members of Turkish Red Crescent couldn’t wait to finally bring the clean and cuddly Sarikiz back to her owner, and the reunion was just incredible. Ali was beaming as he was handed his furry beacon of hope.
Ali embraced his cat as though she were his child. The entire experience seemed surreal to him, but at least Sarikiz was still part of his family’s life. After all, she was all he and his family had left.
Before Ali was released from the hospital, he sat down for some photos with the Turkish rescue team who helped him through the tragedy and took care of his favorite cat while he was being treated at the hospital.
Ali left the hospital with a bandaged right hand, but other than that, he was in good health, albeit slightly shaken up. Even though he had just survived a harrowing situation, he seemed happy.
The surprises didn’t end there, either: the government sent a team to help Ali and his family find new living quarters, and a GoFundMe page was created to offer financial aid. So far, Ali’s page has collected about $6,000!
Ali’s wife was happy he wasn’t letting the tragedy ruin his positive attitude. Their family was becoming comfortable in their new home, and as long as Sarikiz was around to snuggle, Ali didn’t mind all the changes.
It was incredible how Sarikiz was able to change Ali’s mood so drastically. When he thought back to the day of the fire, all he remembered was his heart shattering. But once he saw his cat, it was as if the pieces came back together.
Ali and his family were incredibly lucky to be alive and healthy after such an awful event. Sarikiz represented hope when it seemed like it had completely vanished, and each member of the family would never forget it!