Using home smell good products safely - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Using home smell good products safely

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon for Sandra Rasmussen.  The 37-year-old mother of seven died in a house fire Friday. 

The fire started on a living room table where a scented wax warmer, powered by a light bulb, was placed.  Authorities can't say for sure if the warmer started the fire, only that the blaze originated in that area.  But following the fatal fire, many of you have been asking us if scented plug-ins are safe.

Fire officials say generally, scented plug-ins are safe.  But with any electrical device comes risks.  And you should be careful when using them.

Down the aisle of any supermarket, there are dozens of items that promise to make your home smell good.  But before you purchase that next item to eliminate odors or freshen things up, there's one important distinction you should look for.

"Try not to buy anything that's not been tested by Underwriter's Laboratories.  If it's got a UL listing, that means the instructions to teach you how to operate it safely have been tested they're very safe to use," said Cedar Falls Fire Chief John Schilling.

And when you select a scented product, don't ignore the instructions and warning labels on the package.

"You always want to make sure that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations, and replace bulbs and the product that's in there with what's recommended.  What could happen is someone might want to use maybe a cheaper oil to save a few dollars.  Well the flash point on that may be a lot different than the wax," said Shane Shellhorn, community services coordinator with the Waterloo Fire Department.

Keep a safe zone of at least two feet around any candles or fragrance plug-ins.  Without curtains, clothing or fabric around the smell good source, it's less likely to catch fire.  And never leave your scented items unattended or turned on for too long.

"Treat it like you would a candle.  If you have a candle in your home, you wouldn't leave the room or go get groceries without blowing out the candle," Shellhorn said.

Again, fire officials don't know for sure if a scented plug-in is to blame for the Rasmussen fire.  But they do carry risks, just like any electrical item.  And using them carefully can help prevent fires from starting.

Firefighters also stress the importance of having smoke alarms in your home.  Fires that result in injury and death most frequently occur in homes without any detectors or with alarms that don't work.  It's not known if the Rasmussen home had working smoke detectors.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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