Winter weather has arrived and a lot of people are bringing their electric space heaters out of storage.
Portable space heaters are effective at warming small areas quickly, but unfortunately, they are a leading cause of home fires in the winter. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over 54,000 home heating fires occur in the US each year, 43 percent of which are caused by space heaters. These small appliances also account for 85 percent of home heating fire deaths, resulting in nearly 400 fatalities per year.
December, January, and February are the leading months for home heating fires. If you plan to use space heaters in your home this winter, stay safe and warm by following these electric space heater safety tips.
Buy a space heater with the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label, which indicates the unit has been deemed safe for consumer use. Also, look for a model with an auto-shutoff feature that terminates operation if it tips over.
Avoid using space heaters with extension cords whenever possible. If needed, use the shortest, lowest-gauge cord available. A 14-gauge (medium-duty) or 12-gauge (heavy duty) cord should be safe.
When you plug in your space heater, make sure it feels snug. If the plug is loose or falls out easily, use a different outlet. To prevent a power overload, don’t plug anything into the second socket.
Before turning on the unit, always check that the cord is in good condition. Operating a space heater with a frayed or damaged cord could cause sparks to fly.
Never leave a space heater running in an unoccupied room. Also, shut off the unit before you go to sleep.
If the cord or wall outlet feels warm to the touch during operation, shut off the space heater immediately a call an electrician to come take a look.
Be aware that cords can be a tripping hazard. Avoid running your space heater’s cord across a walkway. Instead, tuck it against the wall.
Never run power cords under furniture or rugs to prevent overheating.
Avoid using space heaters in the bathroom, laundry room, or other areas with high moisture or humidity levels. Also, don’t touch the unit if your hands are wet to avoid possible electrocution.
Remove nearby combustible materials before turning on a space heater. As a rule of thumb, keep all curtains, bedding, furniture, clothing, and paper products at least three feet away on all sides. Make this a “kid-free zone” as well.
Don’t hang wet items over a space heater to dry.
Set the unit on a stable, level surface with minimal risk of getting knocked over. Avoid placing space heaters on tables, chairs, or other elevated surfaces.
Share these space heater safety tips with everyone in your home to ensure safe operation all winter long.
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