Central heating systems distribute warm air throughout a building, but some rooms may have cold spots or need additional heat. Space heaters can be a great way to augment heat, but they can also be the source of fires, shocks and injury. As winter drags on, many people will take their safety for granted, and they will forget to maintain proper space heater safety precautions. Below are several space heater safety tips to help you stay warm and safe throughout the cold season.
Fires and Space Heaters
Space heater fires account for 15 percent of all house fires and the root cause for millions of dollars of property damage. An average of 10,000 fires start each year because of improper space heater placement. Objects such as furniture, curtains and bedding coming too close to a heater is the third leading cause of heating equipment fires that cause fatalities. A space heater is always a danger that requires constant awareness.
Space Heater Safety Tips
Space heaters may be gas, kerosene or electric. Although basic safety tips apply to all types, there are specific operating and safety concerns for each.
• Always leave at least 3 feet of clearance around a space heater. Ensure that children and pets follow this 3-foot rule.
• Place the unit in an area that doesn’t get much foot traffic.
• Make sure the unit is on a flat, stable surface, so that it won’t tip over if bumped. Don’t place it on a table or other surface that is unstable or can catch fire.
• Turn off the device when you’re not using it, when moving to a different room, or going to sleep.
• Use a heater with safety features such as a thermostat and overheat protection. Select a unit that automatically shuts off if it tips over.
• Use in a well-ventilated area. Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
• Select a unit that is properly sized for the area to be heated.
• Educate your family and others who use the unit about proper operation.
• Use the proper fuel for gas and kerosene units. Using the wrong fuel can start a fire.
Additional Safety Concerns for Electric Heaters:
• Use a unit that has been certified by a reputable testing laboratory. Look for the laboratory’s logo, such as UL or ETL, on the cord or unit.
• Never use extension cords with electric space heaters. Extension cords may not be able to adequately power the unit, which increases the risk of shock, overheating and fire.
• Check plugs and outlets when the unit is running. The plug should fit snugly into the outlet. If the outlet or plug is hot, turn the unit off.
• Don’t run cords under furniture or rugs. Cords can overheat, which can cause a fire.
• Never touch the device if you are wet. This can result in a shock. Don’t use the unit around a water source, in bathrooms or in humid basements.
Electrical Home Safety Pros
If you question the safety of your space heater’s power source, reach out to the certified electricians at Hop2It for an electrical safety inspection. You can also give us a call if you have any questions, and we can provide more information about proper space heater use. Follow these tips and keep your loved ones safe and warm!