Now that we’re in the middle of winter, we can’t help but think about certain electrical safety hazards, such as Christmas trees and space heaters. A lot of people purchase portable electric space heaters to help heat up specific areas of their home, such as their bedrooms and home offices during the colder times of the year.
While portable space heaters are efficient and convenient, they also pose a risk of electric shock and they increase the risk of a residential fire if they are not used per the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), half of the residential fires caused by home heating occur in the months of December, January, and February.
Heating Equipment: Second Cause of Home Fires in the U.S.
You’re probably well- aware that candles and cigarettes can cause home fires, but home heating equipment can be just as dangerous. “Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fire result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage,” according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
If you use space heaters in your home, safety has to be your top concern. Here are some tips to prevent your space heater from causing a fire:
- Before you use your space heater, read the warning labels and the manufacturer’s instructions in full.
- Before each use, inspect the space heater for broken or cracked plugs and loose connections. If the cord is frayed or damaged, don’t use the heater anymore.
- Never run your space heater when you’re not there to watch it. Shut it off before you go to sleep or leave the room.
- Do not let children or pets play too close to a space heater.
- Never cover a space heater with a blanket, clothing, or any other fabric.
- Do not use a space heater to thaw pipes or dry clothing.
- Keep space heaters three or four feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, rugs, towels, blankets, and clothing.
- Always plug space heaters directly into wall outlets; don’t plug them into extension cords or power strips as this can cause in overheating and a fire.
- Place your space heater on a surface that is flat and level. Do not place it on tables, furniture, or carpet where the unit can overheat and cause a fire.