Space Heater Safety

It’s that time of year again here in the Midwest when the chill of the outside seeps its way into your bones and supplemental heating inside your home is sometimes needed. A space heater can be a good option, if it is used properly.

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Space heaters, however,  can be dangerous if you do not use them wisely. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an average of 25,000 residential fires each year can be attributed to the use of space heaters. Approximately 6,000 people each year go to the emergency room for injuries related to those fires and 300 of them succumb to their injuries and die.  In addition to the risk of fire, be aware that kerosene and vent-free natural gas space heaters have the added risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or death when they are used in an enclosed space.

To stay safe when using a space heater, follow these simple rules of thumb:

  • When purchasing an electric space heater, look for one with the (Underwriter’s Laboratory) UL label. That label signifies that the tested samples of that appliance have met UL’s high standards of safety.
  • Make sure that the heater you purchase is designed to heat the size room for which you are intending to use it.
  • Make sure the unit that you purchase has a tip-over switch that will automatically shut off the space heater if it is tipped over.
  • Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from all household items (i.e.: drapes, clothing, and furniture.)
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not use extension cords with your space heater.
  • Make sure to place your heater on a flat surface. Do not place your heater, however, on furniture, even if it is a flat surface, since there is the risk of the heater tipping over.
  • If your heater uses liquid-fuel, only use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Another type of fuel may burn hotter than your equipment is designed for and a serious fire could be the result. Never use gasoline.
  • When refueling, make sure the heater is turned off and has cooled down completely before you add the fuel. Immediately wipe up any spills. Do not overfill the tank~ there needs to be room for expansion of the liquid when it heats.
  • Do not leave the heater unattended and never leave one burning while you sleep.

All of us here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency are wishing you a warm … but safe… winter this year.