Space Heater Safety Tips

November 13, 2007

During the cold winter months, many homeowners and renters turn to efficient and easy-to-use space heaters to provide supplemental heat, heat rooms that are normally not heated, and provide warmth when the power goes out. While these space heaters can provide many hours of comfort, there are some dangers that everyone needs to be aware of. Using space heaters safely is not difficult, but it is important to gather the knowledge needed to avoid common problems with these appliances.

Some of the most critical tips for keeping the home and family safe when space heaters are in use include:

  • Make sure that all space heaters are placed a minimum of three feet from anything that could be flammable.
  • Never lay clothes or any other materials on top of a space heater. It can be tempting to dry clothes, socks or shoes near a space heater, but those materials could easily catch fire.
  • Never use space heaters for anything other than providing supplemental heat. Using space heaters to cook food, thaw frozen water pipes or any other purpose for which they are not intended is dangerous.
  • Use only the proper fuel for fuel burning space heater. Kerosene heaters are designed to burn only kerosene, not any other kind of fuel.
  • Turn off all space heaters when the room is empty, and turn off all space heaters before going to bed for the night.
  • Pets and children should be carefully supervised around space heaters. These appliances get very hot, and children or pets can easily be burned severely.
  • Carefully check all electric space heaters or signs of frayed wires, broken wires, overheating or frayed insulation. If any problems are found the heater should not be used until the problem has been fixed by a professional.
  • When buying a new space heater, be sure to look for built in safety features such as heating element guards and automatic shutoff features.
  • When adding fuel to a fuel powered space heater, always allow the heater to cool completely before adding additional fuel. If any fuel is spilled, be sure to wipe it up thoroughly and immediately.
  • If considering a kerosene heater, be sure to check with the local fire company first. Many municipalities do not allow such heaters in their communities.
  • Try to avoid using an extension cord with a electric space heater. If such a cord must be used, be sure to choose an industrial strength cord and make sure you use the right gauge size for the heater.

These tips, along with the user guide and instructions that will accompany any heater you buy will ensure that you keep your family and your home safe.

You can find a great Heater Guide for all types of heaters, including electric space heater and kerosene heater information and Consumer Product Safety Information.

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