It is the season for space heaters. Space heaters are great little inventions that can help keep natural gas and propane costs lower, heat areas of a house that are not heated well by a furnace, and keep elderly and sick people warm when a furnace alone can’t do the job. Unfortunately, every year across the United States, dozens of homes burn down because people don’t take as many precautions as they should when using space heaters. The following are some basic tips that can keep space heaters and their users safe:
- Don’t buy or use a space heater without tip-over and overheat protection built in. Someone you know may have a twenty-year-old heater or perhaps one intended for use in an outbuilding that doesn’t require it to shut off if it is knocked over. Spend the money and protect your loved ones from an unsafe heater in case an overzealous pet or child inadvertently knocks it over. The results could be devastating.
- Only plug a space heater into an outlet when it’s possible to do so without an extension cord. An extension cord might overheat and cause a fire or an electrical shock injury. If an extension cord must be used, ensure that it is rated high enough to keep the heater running safely without overheating.
- Be safe when choosing where to put a space heater. Many space heaters have coils that turn red-hot and putting it too close to curtains or a bed skirt can have tragic results. Be safe rather than sorry and put all space heaters at least three feet from anything combustible.
- Don’t put the heater in a space with paint cans, gas cans, or even matches. These things could combust if the heat in the room becomes high enough. Don’t forget to also ensure that the air intake and outtake are also kept clear of obstructions.
- Run cords for the heater on top of carpets and rugs. If the cord is under a rug, it can be stepped on and its insulation can be worn away, causing overheating or even a spark. Putting it on top allows you to see the cord and step over it.
Space heaters add comfort to homes and can save money, but comfort and savings are only worth it if everyone is safe. Follow these basic rules and protect your home and health while keeping warm.