By AJ Danboise
Using a Space Heater to Keep Warm? Follow These Tips.
We know you’re ready for the spring season, but hold tight for just a little bit longer, because we’re still in the grips of winter. While you prop your feet up near your space heater and dream about all the fun outdoor activities you can’t wait to take part in come warmer weather, make sure to keep these important space heater safety tips in mind. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) estimates that nearly 65,000 homes catch fire every year due to heating equipment. Don’t get so lost in your thoughts that you become a statistic. Always be vigilant.
- Inspect Before Using
With any electrical device, you should always inspect it prior to use. Check for frayed wiring, loose connections and cracks. If you don’t feel that it’s up to par, you’re better off replacing it with a new system. Continuing to use a worn heater only puts you and your home at risk.
- Be Smart with Placement
Where you place your space heater could mean the difference between life and death. It only takes one small error to ignite a devastating fire. For good measure, follow these guidelines when determining the safest place for your heater:
Make sure to place it on a flat, stable and non-flammable surface. Keep your heater off carpet because it can cause your system to overheat and start a fire.
Keep a three-foot buffer zone around your heater. Keep it far away from anything flammable such as paper, clothing and rugs.
If you have a pet, keep it out of their reach. You can do this by either not allowing them into the room where the heater is, or by setting up a gate.
Do not place it near furniture, draperies or tapestries.
- Don’t Leave It Unattended
No matter how desperate you are to keep the living room or bedroom warm for when you return, it’s better to be safe. Make a habit of turning your heater off whenever you leave the room. Further, never leave your pets alone in a room with a heater. Whether you have a cat or dog, they’re bound to be a little curious, and perhaps even a little reckless.
- Turn Your Heater Off Before Going to Bed
If you can’t keep an eye on your heater, turn it off. Nearly 80 percent of home fire deaths are caused by space heaters. Going to bed with your space heater on puts you in a vulnerable position. If a blanket, sheet or pillow were to fall on it, it could easily cause a fire to break out. For your safety and peace of mind, turn it off before you go to bed.
- Plug It Directly into the Outlet
Never use an extension cord or power strip with your heater, as both can overheat and spark a fire, not to mention an extension cord is a tripping hazard, making way for a whole host of other problems.
- Install Adequate Smoke Alarms
Make sure your home is equipped with plenty of smoke alarms and test them often to ensure they’re working properly. Follow these tips on smoke alarm safety:
- Install an alarm inside every sleeping area as well as on the outside of each door.
- There should be an alarm on every floor, including your basement.
- Both your kitchen and living room should have alarms. Keep the kitchen alarm 10 feet from cooking appliances to help prevent false alarms.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month by pressing the “test” button. If you have an alarm with a non-replaceable 10-year battery, replace the entire alarm when it begins to chirp. If it uses regular batteries, simply replace them.
- Interconnect all your smoke alarms so that when one goes off, the others will follow.
Regardless of what heating system you use to stave off your bitterness toward the winter weather, make sure to practice safety on all accounts! Whether you use a furnace, boiler, electric blanket or space heater to keep warm, always be cautious. When it comes to using an additional heating source such as an electric blanket or a space heater, remember that it should not be your sole method for heating.