During the winter months and extremely low temperatures, we see many home and business owners turning to alternative sources of heat. 50% of home heating fires occur during the months of December, January, and February. Whether to save on energy costs or to warm up a drafty room, space heaters are best used with caution.
Follow these safety tips to keep your home or business warm during the winter months and prevent fire damage.
Electric Space Heater Safety
- When purchasing a space heater, look for a safety certification from a well-known source, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Auto shut off features are beneficial to prevent overheating and hazards if the space heater tips over.
- Maintain 3 feet of space around the space heater. Take care to remove flammable materials such as curtains, bedding, and clothing. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that space heaters placed too close to combustible materials are the second leading cause (behind cooking) of house fires.
- Space heaters do not typically come with GFCI plugs. To prevent electrocution, keep the heating unit away from water. Bathrooms and kitchens are a bad idea for electric space heaters.
- Never use an extension cord with space heaters or electric blankets. The amount of power drawn from these units is too much for a low amp extension cord to handle, causing the cord to overheat and spark a fire. Unless you know the specific amps that the extension cord and the space heater are rated for, it is best to avoid this and plug directly into the wall outlet.
- Plug only the space heater into the wall outlet so as not to overload the circuit.
- Keep the space heater on the floor, preferably wood or tile. Low pile carpet is acceptable but stay away from high pile and shag carpeting. Space heaters are not intended to be used on a table or shelving. These situations pose a fire hazard if the space heater tips over and the unit does not come with an auto shut off tip feature.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Wagging tails and little hands pose a fire hazard as well as the potential for burns.
- Make sure to turn off the heating unit when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Check for worn or frayed wires before using the space heater. Discontinue use if you discover any damage.
- And the ever-important tip- make sure you have working smoke detectors on every level of the home and outside each bedroom.
Related: Prevent Frozen Pipes
Gas Space Heater Safety
If there is a power outage or you chose to use a gas space heater, follow the above tips as well as:
- Choose a propane or kerosene space heater rated for indoor use. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat when using gas to heat your home. It is colorless and odorless as well as deadly.
- Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in addition to smoke detectors in the home.
- Be sure to allow proper ventilation.
- Read all safety directions before use.
- Do not attempt to move the heater when lit.
We hope you have a warm and safe winter season, but if you do need our services, we are available 24/7/365. Contact us or call 800-865-5157