Fremont apartment fire an alarming reminder on how to safely heat your home

SEATTLE -- When cold temperatures set in, using an electric heater is a quick and easy way to add warmth to any room.

But on Wednesday, an in-wall electric heater ignited a bed in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood while no one was home. Fire officials say it's a dire reminder to leave some room between the heater and other flammable material.

Seattle Fire says there should be at least one foot of space between an in-wall heater and furniture or other items, but Kyle Ohashi with Puget Sound Regional Fire recommends 18-36 inches of space, just to be on the safe side.

For portable heaters, Seattle Fire says there should be at least three feet of space.

Most modern heaters have safety features like automatic shut-off switches and timers already built in. But Ohashi says steps should still be taken to prevent accidents.

"If you`re not in the room, shut the heater off. Unplug it whenever you`re not using it because not only is it going to continue to draw power but it`s also a tripping hazard if nothing else," he says.

This time of year, fire departments also get more calls for carbon monoxide poisoning. People who use gas from a stove, fireplace or furnace to heat their home run the serious risk of getting sick -- or worse.

"They get light headed, they get dizzy, they get headaches, they can lose consciousness or go into seizures. And every winter we hear about people who die from carbon monoxide," Ohashi says.

Ohashi says people should check the batteries of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms, especially during the winter months. And if you`re going to use an electric heater, keep safety in mind.