Per the National Fire Protection Agency, space heaters accounted for 56,000 fires between 2009 and 2013. This was 16% of the reported fires during this time, and there were 470 lives lost, 1490 injuries, and $1 Billion in property damage. These room-sized warmers fill a specific need, and are safe when used properly. With that said, it may be wise to review the safety points for them occasionally. Here are the most important things to keep in mind.
1. Keep all items, and especially flammables, at least three feet from the heater. Over half of the fires reported were caused by contact with bedding, curtains, or other items which ignited. Don’t place them too close to sofas, chairs, or other furniture.
2. Establish a safety zone of at least three feet for children and pets. Newer versions have safety mechanisms built in, and for the ultimate safety, consider using infrared heaters, which are cool to the touch, and will shut off if tipped. But older heaters are still in use, and these have the potential for burns. If they tip over while hot, they may shut off, but could still cause a contact burn on flooring or other materials.
3. Never use an extension cord for a space heater. Always plug them directly into the wall. Since the standard versions are not sized properly for all heaters, the simplest solution is to avoid them completely. In addition, as the cords age, they experience normal wear and tear. Loose connections cause arcing between the two components, and arcing causes heat and fires. The last reason that we don’t recommend using a drop cord is because it presents a trip hazard. Lengthening the power cord to allow the heater to sit in the middle of the room means that a pet or child can get tangled up.
4. Maintain smoke and fire alarms in working condition. Fresh batteries should be installed twice each year. Absolutely check your smoke and fire alarms monthly as if your life depends on it.
There are many situations when the use of a space heater makes good sense. You may have a cold area in the home which is just not responding to the central heating due to poor insulation or drafty windows. You may have an older home which isn’t ducted, especially for the second floor, and space heaters will warm that area effectively. Or, you may have had a maintenance issue with your central heating system, and the use of these smaller versions is a temporary measure until you can get a repairman to fix the situation.
By keeping in mind that space heaters do present some specific challenges, and remaining aware and vigilant at all times around them, you will be able to utilize them safely in your home.
If you are purchasing a space heater, consider purchasing an infrared heater. This is one of the safest heat producers on the market, with a consistent heat throw and safety that is unmatched by the other options.
If you are in need of any residential or commercial electrical services or LED lighting in Baldwin County or Mobile, Alabama look no further than Professional Electric! Visit us online at www.ProfessionalElectric.biz and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter! We are available 24/7 for emergency services! Mobile: (251) 473-5788 Baldwin County: (251) 929-8957 Remember, when it comes to your electrical needs, Keep It Professional!
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