Stay safe and warm this winter
Space heaters can be a quick way to heat up a room. However, they can be dangerous if used improperly. Space heaters cause 25,000 home fires a year, and 6,000 emergency room visits, according to the Harvard University Environmental Health & Safety group.
About one-third of all house fires nationwide happen during colder months, December through February. Equipment that is intended to add a little extra warmth, such as space heaters, are the leading cause of these fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPE).
The good news is, one of the biggest causes of fires is one of the most easily avoidable. Many fires start when flammable products are placed too close to heating devices, such as space heaters. They should be kept at least 3 feet from blankets, clothing, paper and other flammables.
Here are additional tips to help keep your family safe:
- Before using a space heater, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.
- Purchase only space heaters that have been safety tested and UL approved.
- Make sure the unit is equipped with an emergency tip-over shut-off feature and heating element guards. Read and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and care.
- Check space heaters before use. Cords should not be frayed, brittle, or cracked.
- Turn space heaters off when not in use.
- Place space heaters out of high-traffic areas and on a level, hard, non-flammable floor surface; NOT on carpets, furniture, or countertops.
- Again, keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from blankets, clothing, paper and other flammables.
- Do not attempt to warm your entire home using space heaters. Space heaters are useful in small areas, such as a study or living room. However, if you need to keep large areas warm, your home heating system will do the job more efficiently.
Many people also use electric blankets to keep warm during cold winter nights. Before plugging in electric blankets, check for any damage and inspect cord for frays, cracks or cuts. Electric blankets should not be tucked under the mattress and nothing should be placed on top of the blanket while it’s in use, including comforters and bedspreads. Pets should never be allowed to sleep on the electric blanket.
Find more useful information about how to stay safe around electricity from our other safety pages: