Jan 27, 2014
Space Heater Safety
It’s getting chillier and chillier by the day, and this winter is supposed to be a cold one in New England, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. That can only mean one thing – it’s time to turn up the heat! If this means also unpacking a space heater for some additional warmth over the next few months, we have a few tips on how you can best keep warm without dealing with a calamity.
When Buying a Space Heater
If you are in the market for a new space heater, you should know that this is not a decision to make lightly. Space heaters can be dangerous, so make sure that you pick out a model that will be safe for use in your home. When shopping, consider the following points:
Check to see what kind of use your heater is approved for – some are only for in home use, while some may be able to heat an outdoor area. There are also some space heaters meant specifically for use on a desk.
When choosing a heater, make sure that it has been tested and certified by an organization such as Underwriter’s Laboratories Inc, Intertek, or CSA International.
If you are considering a kerosene heater, check first to make sure that it is legal in your area. (In Massachusetts, kerosene heaters must be properly vented)
Before making a purchase, inspect the heater’s cord. Look for frayed wiring and damaged insulation. If there is damage, you may wish to bring it to the attention of a store manager, as the unit could be dangerous.
Consider the newer electric styles that are proving to be much safer that older styles.
Getting a space heater that perfectly suits your needs can sometimes be tough, but the journey is worth it. Once you buy a space heater, it will likely serve you for many years. This makes it worth the extra effort to find exactly the right one for your needs.
Where to Place Your Heater
Whether you just bought your first space heater, or you’ve been enjoying its added heat for years, you need to ensure that your heater is put in a safe place in your home. Reevaluate your current placement plan using these tips as a guide:
Always place a heater on a flat, level surface.
Never put a heater on furniture to avoid it falling and starting a fire. The only exception is if the unit is designed for tabletop use.
Heaters should never be placed on rugs or carpeted floors. Instead, use surfaces like hardwood or tile.
Place heaters at least 3 feet away from combustible household items, like furniture, drapes, and rugs.
Space heaters should not be used outdoors or in bathrooms unless the unit has been approved for use in these areas.
Your heater should be placed within reach of an outlet. Using an extension cord with a space heater is not recommended.
Operating a Heater Safely
It should come as no surprise that space heaters are a fire risk. When used properly, though, they can provide great warmth with little danger. Here are some tips on how to ensure that your heater isn’t a fire risk:
Don’t let children or pets (or anyone else, for that matter) within 3 feet of the heater.
Space heaters are meant to be a supplemental source of heat, and should never be used as a home’s primary heat source.
It may be tempting, but you should never let a heater run unattended.
Also never run a heater while you sleep.
If you have a heater that needs to be refueled occasionally, make sure the unit cools completely before you add fuel.
Do an inspection of the unit and its cord. If you see anything unusual, discontinue use of the device immediately.
Also occasionally check the outlet that the device is plugged into. If it gets overly hot, that may suggest a wiring problem in your home – call an electrician as soon as possible.
Another great way to protect yourself against the threat of a fire this season is to have the right Massachusetts home insurance. Call 508-947-3460 and let a Gammons Insurance Agency representative check your policy, to ensure that all of the most common winter hazards are accounted for (including the use of a space heater).