Space heaters are an amazing invention that can make a huge difference in terms of human comfort. For rooms that are drafty or without central heating, a space heater is a great way to warm up. However, using a space heater does pose a fire risk, and every year one in 20 fires started by a space heater causes someone’s death. If you choose to use a space heater in your home or office, be sure to observe the following safety tips. With a little extra care, you can keep your family safe and avoid having to pay for fire damage restoration as well.
Buy the right one
Not all heaters are made with the same quality standards. Be sure to choose a model that has been certified by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL). This means that the product has been thoughtfully designed to lower fire risk and also tested before sale. The older the heater, the fewer safety features it will contain, so think seriously about pulling your grandmother’s old heater out of the closet – it’s usually better to get a new model.
Place it carefully
When choosing the location for your space heater, make sure that it rests on a level surface, ideally without carpeting. It must be placed at least three feet away from flammable furnishings like area rugs, curtains, and wooden furniture. Keep your heater out of common footpaths so that the risk of it getting knocked over is minimized. It’s also important to make sure your heater is not exposed to water, so don’t use it in the bathroom or near a sink in any room.
Supervise its use
Because space heaters can pose a fire risk, it is always safer to supervise their use. That means turning it off overnight when you’re sleeping and also when you leave the house. Space heaters are really meant to run for short periods. If you are relying on one as the sole heat source in a room, it is still important to cycling it on and off every half an hour or so to allow the machine to cool down.
Observe electrical safety
Space heaters pull a lot of electricity and this can sometimes short out other outlets if you are running several devices at once. It’s best to let your space heater occupy an outlet by itself, rather than plug it into a full power strip. It might also be necessary to avoid using other power-hungry appliances (microwaves are a good example) when the space heater is running. Finally, do not attach your space heater to an extension cord unless it is specially rated to handle high power.
Educate the family
Make sure to have a conversation with the kids about space heater safety. They need to understand that it can’t be touched and that it’s dangerous to knock over. Establish some guidelines for managing the pets when the space heater is running, too. Go over some scenarios that could cause a fire, such as tossing a blanket over the heater or using it to dry clothes. It helps to have read the user manual so that you are aware of proper usage and precautions as set out by the manufacturer.
Keep your smoke detectors maintained
If the worst happens and your space heater does cause a fire, it’s vital that your smoke detectors are able to alert you quickly. Test smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries as needed to keep them all in good working order.
Space heaters are a huge help in certain situations – it is just important to know when and where they can be used safely. Though it can be tempting to run them all the time, especially when it’s freezing outside, space heaters are not meant to replace central heating. But for warming cold feet when you’re just in from the snowy yard or supporting your central heating in chasing away drafts, space heaters are well worth the time and attention they demand to use them safely.