THUNDER BAY — In Northwestern Ontario, plugging in a vehicle's block heater at this time of year is a good way to ensure it starts in the morning.
But Thunder Bay Fire Rescue says there's also a risk.
A faulty block heater cord can start a fire and destroy a vehicle.
TBFR said in a statement Wednesday that firefighters have responded to a number of such fires in recent days.
Block heaters are generally very safe, and provide only the minimum amount of heat required to keep an engine block warm.
However, any fault in the electrical cord is a potential source of ignition.
TBFR said owners should watch out for frayed or cracked cords as these can expose electrical wiring and cause a short circuit or a build-up of heat where the wires are compromised.
Any extension cords for block heaters should be of either medium or heavy-gauge wire, and have a three-prong plug that includes a ground wire.
The fire department also recommends a ground fault receptacle be used at the power source.
Block heater wiring itself should also be checked for cracks or faults, but if there is any concern about a hazard, TBFR advises to get help from a licensed electrician or mechanic.