Each year, more than 65,000 home fires occur due to heating equipment use. Portable electric space heaters are a convenient source of heat to supplement your central HVAC system. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electrical hazard if not used properly and safely. The Electrical Safety Foundation International provides a list of points to remember every time you break out the space heaters. Some of their most helpful tips include:
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs, or loose connections, before every use. If cords or connections are frayed, worn, or otherwise damaged, do not use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Always turn it off when leaving the room or going to bed, and do not let pets or children play too close to an active heater.
- Space heaters are meant to provide supplemental heat only, and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or thaw frozen pipes.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor in your home, and outside all sleeping areas. Test them once a month during cold weather.
- Heater should be kept at least three feet away from anything flammable. This list includes paper, clothing, curtains, and rugs.
- Place heaters and cords out of high traffic areas, and tape down loose cords where possible.
- Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets. NEVER use an extension cord, power strip, or surge protector to power a space heater. Do not plug any other electrical device into the same wall outlet as the heater.
- Make sure the heater is placed on a flat, level surface. Never operate heaters on top of cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet.
- Always unplug the heater and store it away safely when not in use.