Space heaters: safety vs. convenience

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Posted on Jan 25 2018 in Safety

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays ending, we’ll do just about anything to make things easier on ourselves. The convenience of electric space heaters are great, but don’t forget about all of the safety precautions you may have overlooked.

“Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States,” said Tom VanParis, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “We want to remind members that safety should always be a top consideration when using electric space heaters.”

When bringing your electric space heater out for the winter, here are a few quick reminders that could ensure those in your home stay safe:

  • Check that your space heater has a label showing that it is recognized by a testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or plug any other devices into the same outlet. That could start a fire.

While there is no risk for carbon monoxide poisoning with an electric space heater, it holds many other safety hazards if not used properly. One mistake homeowners make when using space heaters is placing them near combustibles. Keep them at least 3 feet away from anything that could possibly burn, like curtains, beds or a rug. In accordance with fire safety, install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Already have smoke alarms? Great! Be sure to test them once a month to be sure they’re working properly.

Remember, an electric space heater is a temporary option when looking for supplemental heat. Many homeowners may use this option to heat specific rooms while they sleep, but this is unsafe. Whenever you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, it is important to turn off your electric space heater. If you leave it unattended, it could overheat or fall. As well, a child could play too close to it and get hurt.

Place space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may be tripping hazards. And when not in use, always unplug and safely store the heater.

Don’t let your guard down if you heat your home with an electric space heater. By following these tips, you and your family have a better chance of avoiding significant fire and electric shock hazards.