A New Hartford mom is warning others to be careful after she and her family narrowly avoided disaster with a space heater.

Katie Painter of New Hartford was just trying to get a little warmer over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when her daughter's nose alerted her that something was wrong.

She posted photos and a warning on Facebook: "And this is why you don’t leave a space heater plugged in unattended. Thankfully we were home and Alayna smelled something. When I went to check it, there was smoke and everything was melted together... Only losses were one nearby throw pillow, one heater, an extension cord and part of my finger. My house smells like burning plastic but it could have been so much worse."

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According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are responsible for 85% of deadly home heating fires, and 43% of all home heating fires. 

“Space heaters can be effective tools for providing added warmth at home, but it’s critical that people follow basic precautions to ensure that they’re used safely,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division.

Carli says space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn, and must be turned off when people leave the room or go to sleep.

“Make sure children and pets are kept well away from space heaters at all times, and remember that space heaters should never be left unattended,” said Carli. “When you’re ready to go to sleep, it’s time to turn off your space heater.”

You should always be careful plugging when plugging a space heater into a power strip or extension cord, as some can't handle the energy load and will overheat and can catch fire.

Credit: Katie Hoover Painter