While space heaters are an effective way to warm up your room in the winter, the reality is that they can be extremely dangerous and must be used with caution. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), space heaters are responsible for 5 out of 6 home heating fire deaths. To keep your family and your home safe this winter, it’s important to know how to use a space heater safely. Here is a list of precautions and tips to follow when using a space heater in your home:
1. Not all heaters are created equal
You want to make sure the space heater you are using has a tag saying the model has been seen and listed by a big testing lab or agency. Also, it is essential to spend the few minutes it takes to go through the instructions and warning labels.
2. Check your space heater for damage
Every year before you use your space heater inspect it for any signs of damage. You want to check for any loose connections, broken plugs, and any other signs of wear or damage. Don’t try to repair it. It is safer to replace the heater if any damage is found. or is otherwise worn or damaged.
3. Err on the side of caution
If your space heater is a bit older, seriously consider getting a newer model. As technology improves, new safety features are often included, such as automatic switch off, WiFi connected to Alexa or Google, etc. This provides additional protection and can help prevent fires. The cost of a new heater is far cheaper than your home catching on fire.
4. Never leave the heater unattended
Think of your space heater as a candle with an open flame. You never want to leave it unattended. If you need to leave the room, always shut it off. Yes, the room may cool off in the meantime, but it’s safer than something accidentally catching on fire without you there to act immediately. Staying nearby is also important to keep children and pets away from the heater. If they get too close they could get seriously burnt.
5. Don’t multitask with your heater
Your space heater should only be used to heat your room. It is not meant to warm your bedding or dry your clothes. You should keep the heater at least 3-feet away from anything that could possibly catch on fire. This includes bedding, socks, any items of clothing, rugs, paper, etc. A good rule of thumb is to keep your space heater away from your windows and your bed. This will prevent anything from accidentally getting too close.
Your heater should ideally be on a flat surface. Always plug it directly into the wall socket. Never use an extension cord or power strip for a space heater! Also, make sure you avoid plugging in anything else in the same outlet. Using an extension cord, power strip, or plugging in more than a heater into a single outlet can lead to overheating, blown fuses, and even fires.
7. Use alarms and detectors
If you have any kind of heater or flame in your home you must have a smoke detector. This is your first line of defense in getting out of your home if a fire starts. You can also get smart alarms that alert your phone as well. This can help you stay in touch with your home even if you are not physically there. Smoke detectors and alarms should be installed on every floor (even every room) of the house and test them regularly, even during summer months. Also, have a fire escape plan and make sure every family member knows it.
8. Put it away
Once the warmer weather comes back, unplug your space heater and put it away. You don’t want anyone bumping or turning it on without knowing. Taking care of it right away will help prevent any accidents from happening.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you are unsure about the safety of your heater you can always contact a professional at WireCraft Electric to check it out for any space or even electric heater repair. Give us a call at 206-542-0208 to talk with our team of professionals about your concerns. With a quick inspection, they should be able to tell you if the heater is safe to use. Otherwise, simply play it safe and invest in a new one.