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Space Heater Safety Tips

Space heaters are used to provide heat for a small area and can be either portable or wall-mounted. They are an ideal choice if only one room needs to be heated or when there is need for additional heating. Electric space heaters are the most popular, though propane and gas heats are also available. Irrespective of the type of heater used, it is essential to use some safety precautions. Statistics indicate that about 25,000 fires are caused in homes across the United States every year due to improper use of space heaters. Approximately 6,000 people need medical attention annually after such accidents. Safety guidelines must be adhered to when installing a space heater.

The heater must be of a size appropriate to the space to be heated. It is never a good idea to buy used heaters - electric or otherwise - because they may not come with operating instructions or a manual. The manufacturer's warranty may also have expired or be void. It is essential to ensure that children and pets do not come too close to the heater. It is also not advisable to place any objects within three feet of the heater. The right type of fuel should be used for heaters in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Kerosene heaters are preferred by those who cannot handle high electrical bills caused by electric space heaters. Care must be taken when refueling such heaters. Pouring kerosene into it when it is hot is enough to start a fire. The best thing is to take the heater outside and refuel it to about 90 percent of its capacity after it cools down. The right type of kerosene is needed and this should be stored in a container reserved exclusively for this purpose.

Electric heaters are considered the best option for indoor use and the unvented models are considered relatively safer than their gas or liquid fuel counterparts. Annual maintenance is necessary for safe and efficient functioning of heaters each winter. Damaged and frayed wires must be replaced and if the heater has cracks or other damage, it may need to be replaced. Avoid usage of extension cords; plugging the electric heater into a wall socket is the safest method. When the heater is not in use, it should be turned off and unplugged. Electric heaters should not be placed in damp places like bathrooms unless they are intended for use in such locations. It is advisable to buy space heaters from a recognized manufacturer. This will ensure that the product is of good quality and is likely to come with a warranty in case of any defects. Space heaters are not meant for any other purpose like cooking or drying clothes. Heaters with a built-in thermostat and automatic shut-off in case of overheating or electrical fault have been found to help minimize accidents. The wiring of the residence must be checked to ensure that it is sufficient to bear the load of a heater.

Avoid covering the heater's cord with carpeting to prevent overheating which can cause a fire to break out. The space heater must always be placed on a flat surface, ideally the floor. Placing it on a table or chair may cause it to topple over. Despite all precautions, accidents can occur at times. If a space heater fire breaks out, the first thing to do is to clear the room and then inform the fire department. Trying to fight the fire is what leads to most injuries in such cases. The fire department personnel can deal with fires in the best and fastest manner.

To know more about space heater safety, refer to the following links.

  • Portable Heater: The different types of space heaters available and their benefits.