How to stay warm and safe with alternative heating devices

When times are tight and the temperatures plummet, people make some tough decisions to stay warm. But one decision led to a fire that nearly killed a Detroit firefighter.

When the Detroit fire department was called to a house fire on Glendale Wednesday night, firefighter Kenneth Williams rushed in to put the fire out and save lives. 

He got first and second degree burns. He just didn't know it at the time.

"No I didn't. It's pretty basic when you're in a hot attic to feel a sting in the air," Williams said.

Investigators have concluded the fire was started when someone hooked up an illegal electrical connection.

"No one thinks when they come to work that they're not going to go home. You gotta be smart about what you're doing," Williams said.

On Friday, firefighters showed how dangerous it is when you're using alternative methods to heat your home.

For instance, with a propane heater, it took 7 seconds for some clothes to burn.

Detroit Fire Prevention Chief Chris Dixon says you should never heat your home with something that produces carbon monoxide. It can kill you in minutes. 

"If you have no heat in your home, you may possibly take one of these and use it in your home. But it also gives off carbon monoxide," Dixon said. "Never use gasoline because gasoline burns faster. If you use that inside of a kerosene heater, it will cause it to explode."

Electric space heaters are okay, just don't let them run overnight. 

Here's a quick guide for you: make sure you have three feet around your heating device, read the instructions, never have a propane heater inside, and have a smoke detector on every level of your house.