Space heaters are considered a relatively inexpensive option for people looking to cut back on exorbitant heating bills with fuel and energy costs so high. But, these types of heaters, if not used properly, can pose a fire hazard. Safety must be a top priority.
An estimated 22,800 home fires are started by space heaters each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). And, about 300 people die each year due to related fires.
Below are some safety measures that will help ensure you are properly using a space heater.
Space Heater Safety
Opt for a new space heater if possible. A heater that doesn’t have the UL (Underwriters’ Laboratories) standard of approval attached to it, should be avoided. Older, poorly wired heaters pose a fire risk without warning.
A 3-foot clearance should surround a space heater at all time. Bedding, curtains and rugs are highly flammable items that should be kept as far away from the heater as is possible.
When leaving the room, turn off the heater. It only takes a second for a child or pet to accidently knock over the heater which can result in a fire. When leaving for the day, unplug it altogether.
The heater should not be used to dry any type of clothing items such as socks.
Keep heaters away from water; never use them near the bathroom or a sink.
Space heaters require high wattage, for this reason they should never be plugged into an outlet that uses multiple plugs. Also, extension cords should be avoided, as they can overheat and ignite with excessive wattage.
Space heaters carry a much greater risk of causing a fire than central heating, such as furnaces.
Make sure that your fire alarms are working properly by testing regularly.
Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacture.
Consumer Reports has an overview of the best and worst space heaters. They also have a buying guide to help you decide which heater is best for you and your home.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.