The weather outside is frightful. Temperatures continue to drop. Even if it doesn’t snow, people might feel the chill in their home or office. A space heater can keep us warm, but it can also become a major fire hazard.
Space heaters account for 20,000 fires out of a reported 62,200 home heating fires. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also discovered that space heaters were behind 73 percent of home heating fire deaths in 2005.
When shopping for a space heater, always look for fire safety notices on the boxes. Does the space heater meet current fire safety standards? The space heater should have a protective grill in front of the heating unit. Look for proof that the unit has been tested and meets standards.
Make sure to read all instructions contained with the space heater. Follow them to the letter. Keep the space heater away from water and flammable materials like carpets and draperies. Keep clothing and newspapers away from the space heater. It should have its own space on the floor.
Follow safety requirements about the cord. Plug it into the outlet. Only use a heavy-duty extension cord with a size 14 or higher gauge wire. Grounded plugs need a grounded extension cord. The instruction manual gives proper specifications.
Turn off the heater whenever you leave the room. Space heaters shouldn’t be left unattended because it increases the fire hazard. Remind children to stay away from the space heater. Keep pets away from the heater as well. The heat is dangerous for them. And children and pets sometimes knock over space heating units if left unattended. Place the space heater on a solid surface in an area where people won’t knock it over or trip on it.
Space heaters are not for drying clothes or thawing frozen pipes. Improper use of a space heater contributes to fires. Keep the heater away from water, and never cover it with other materials. Avoid running the cord beneath carpets or rugs. The main rule of thumb is to keep the space heater away from anything and everything else.
If the heater gets damaged, don’t continue to use it. Replace any parts as necessary. Sometimes it’s necessary to replace the entire space heater for a new one. It might be more expensive, but it prevents the potential for a house fire caused by a space heater. Never operate a damaged heater.
Fires might still happen even when people do their best to prevent them. Check your smoke detectors and replace them as needed. Make sure to have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your home. Early detection of fires can sometimes lessen the amount of damage they cause. It also gives people more time to evacuate to safety.
Space heaters can be valuable heating units during the winter months. But the first defense against fires is awareness. Follow fire safety precautions with heating units and flammable objects in your home. Have a plan in case a fire does happen, and know who to call when you need fire damage restoration services.