The safety risks of using space heaters
By: Robert Davis
Brrr! Feeling a bit chilly? Space heaters are a popular way to get a bit of extra warmth at home or in the office during the spring, fall and winter months.
However, many of us don’t realize that space heaters are dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are caused by space heaters. Although there have been a lot of advances in the technology of these mini-appliances, there are still several risks you should be aware of:
Risk #1: Plugging your space heater into an extension cord. Don’t do it! Plug your heater directly into a wall outlet. Using an extension cord could lead to overheating, which can lead to a house fire. Before using a space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully. Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
Risk #2: Tip-overs. Only use space heaters that have a tip-over safety feature. Many newer space heaters come with a sensor that kicks on when the space heater tips over. This sensor immediately shuts off the heater, preventing fires from starting. If your heater is older and doesn’t have this feature, it’s time to replace it with a newer model. Also, avoid using a space heater in a high-traffic area where it can be a tripping hazard.
Risk #3: Having the heater come into contact with flammable objects. Keep any space heater at least three feet from all furniture, window treatments, or anything else that is considered combustible. Never set anything on top of your space heater.
Risk #4. Leaving your space heater unattended. Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep. Keep an eye on children or pets, which can be injured or tip it over.
When purchasing a space heater, make sure it has a label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory. When used safely, space heaters can provide the warmth you need to make it through another chilly winter. Make sure everyone in your family is aware of the risks and safety tips mentioned above.