Many people choose to use space heaters to heat small areas of their homes during the winter months. While space heaters can be very effective, if not used correctly they can be extremely dangerous. A December 2017 report from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that 43% of home heating equipment fires are caused by space heaters, resulting in 85% of civilian deaths, 78% of civilian injuries, and 53% of direct property damage. Here are some tips from Cochran Cooling & Heating to help you and your family stay safe and warm when using space heaters in your home.
Size, Certification, and Safety Switches
Purchase a space heater specifically suited to your needs, and never use a fuel burning space heater indoors. Choose a space heater suited for the area you will be heating (too big and your heater will consume excess energy, too small and it will have to work too hard). Make sure your space heater has a label showing that it is listed by an independent testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ETL (Intertek). Heaters with these labels are certified to meet specific construction, performance, and safety standards. Also, look for space heaters equipped with tip-over and/or overheat switches that will automatically shut off if they are tipped over or overheat.
Pick the Right Location
Place your space heater on a hard, level, and nonflammable surface away from high traffic areas and doorways to prevent a tripping hazard. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire. Most space heaters don’t come equipped with a GFCI plug (which prevents electric shock) so don’t use them around water or in damp spaces such as bathrooms and humid basements. Never drape anything on top of your space heater and make sure it is placed at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, papers, and other combustibles. Also, maintain the 3 foot rule for children and pets and never use a space heater in a child’s bedroom.
Plugging and Unplugging
Plug your space heater directly into an outlet with sufficient power capacity. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet that your heater is plugged into and do not use extension cords or power strips with your heater. Never leave a space heater unattended. Unplug your heater (by pulling the plug straight from the outlet) whenever you leave the room, go to sleep, or when it is not in use.
Maintenance and Alarms
Occasionally inspect your space heater for cracked/broken plugs, loose connections, and any damage to the cord. You should also frequently clean and maintain your space heater to ensure it is working safely. Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them monthly.
Call Cochran Cooling & Heating
A space heater may be a temporary solutions for heating a small space, but if you are concerned with long-term heating or have any questions about effectively and efficiently heating your space, call Cochran Cooling & Heating today!