McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law

Stay cozy and safe this winter with our space heater safety tips. Space Heater Safety

Space heaters are a great way to supplement your home’s heat this winter. While they’re great for keeping cold spaces toasty, they can be the cause of a disaster. While only 32% of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79% of home heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Heating equipment continues to be the second leading cause of home fires behind cooking and the second leading cause of home fire deaths behind smoking.

Proper use of a space heater usually boils down to using your common sense but as a reminder here are a few questions you should ask yourself before using a space heater in your home.

Is everything working properly?

  • You should occasionally inspect your space heater, especially when you first purchase it. Frequently clean and maintain it to ensure it’s working safely.
  • In addition to checking your heater make sure to all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Is this the best place for my heater?

  • Remember the rule of three, space heaters should be placed at least 3 feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles.
  • Never sit or drape anything on top of a portable heater. In addition, be sure that the heater is placed on a hard, level surface.
  • It’s also good practice to have a three foot kid-free zone around the heater to avoid tip over or injury.

Will there be water near the heater?

  • Unless your heater is specifically designed for use in damp spaces, avoid running a heater in a bathroom or a humid basement.
  • Do not touch the heater if you are wet or have wet hands, as this increases the risk of electrical shock.

Are the cords safe?

  • Be sure to plug a portable electric heater directly into an outlet with sufficient power capacity. Attaching an extension cord to the unit increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.
  • If an extension cord must be attached, use one that is properly rated for the portable heater.
  • Do not use heater if the power cord or wall heater feels hot to the touch. Check that the cord is not damaged or frayed in any way.
  • Do not run cords under rugs or other floor coverings.

Am I currently using the heater?

  • Upon leaving an area, turn off the portable space heater and unplug it.

In addition to safe practices it is also important to be sure the heater you purchase is safe.

Portable space heaters that are listed by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) have been tested, proven, and certified to meet specific safety standards. The manufacturers of these heaters are also required to provide important information about the safe usage and care of their products.

Some common testing laboratory certifications to look for include:

  • UL (Underwriters Laboratories)
  • CSA (Canadian Standards Association)
  • ETL (Intertek Group)

If your product has one of these certifications, you can be confident it’s safe to use at home using the manufacturer’s instructions and asking yourself the five simple questions from this blog.

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