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Effective Tips for Safe Handling of Space Heaters

space heaterSpace heaters are among many causes of home fires. Even though small in size, they may cause a destructive fire. Improper handling is the number one reason behind space heater led home fires.

A report from NFPA deals with the dangers of using heating appliances. Space heaters top the list of appliances that cause home fires. The statistics from NFPA shows only 32% homes use space heaters, but they account for almost 80% of fatal fires at homes.

The risk

There are safety tips, which, if followed can reduce the risks of home fires from space heaters. But before we begin discussing them, we need to fully understand the risk areas. Describing the risk, NFPA's VP of communication, Lorraine Carli said, "Half of fatal home space heater fires started because something was too close to the heater and ignited. Keep heaters and things that can burn at least three feet apart."

Heating equipment being too close to furniture and other burnable things is a leading factor that contributes to space heater induced home fires. Upholstered furniture, mattress, clothing and bedding can quickly catch fire. So NFPA's recommendation of keeping heating appliances at least three feet away from furniture should be followed.

Key statistics

The stat figures obtained from the Harvard University Environmental Health & Safety group shows on an average 25000 home fires take place a year along with 6000 emergency room visits. Most (â…“) of all home fires all over the United States take place from December to February.

Space heaters are extensively used during these colder months, thereby increase the odds of home fires. The TLC (teach, learn, care) program by Safe Electricity educates homeowners about the risk of home fire due to space heaters. In the ensuing paragraph, we'll give their suggestions a look.

Safe Electricity suggestions

The list of suggestions starts with purchasing only those space heaters that are safety tested and UL-certified. Before you buy, check if the space heater has the emergency tip-over shut-off feature and heating element guards.

Smoke and CO increase the odds of a fire. So before you invest in a space heater, make sure smoke and CO detector at your home are working properly. If the heater malfunctions, call up a professional and have all the problems fixed by him. A corridor is not suitable for placing a space heater because it's a high-traffic area. Carpets, furniture and countertops are not suitable places to keep a space heater either.

Identifying the purpose of a space heater is important. Remember a space heater has just one purpose; providing additional heating to a room. A space heater shouldn’t be used for cooking or dry clothing a towel. The recommended distance between a space heater and flammable substances is three feet. Flammable liquids such as fuel, paint and spray cans, draperies, sofa and blanket are flammable.

Related suggestions

If you have pets and children at home, do keep an eye on them. If they go near an electric heater, an accident might be caused. Even accidental contacts may cause serious shocks or burns. Overloading the circuits is a mistake that many homeowners unknowingly commit. Don’t use extension cords and multiple plugs with a space heater. Always plug a space heater into a circuit that no other electrical appliance is using.

Sometimes, space heaters are plugged into the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the interrupter trips. Homeowners assume something's wrong with the GFCI. Don't assume anything such as this and hire a professional to check the space heater. Otherwise, you may get a shock when touching it.

Don’t leave the room when your space heater is unattended. Always turn it off and then have it unplugged before you leave a room. The new models are normally safer than the old ones. So if your space heater has become worn off, have it replaced by a newer and more efficient model.

Portable space heaters

Have a portable electric space heater at home? Make sure it has an automatic shut off feature. Always place it on flat and solid surfaces. Connect the power cords directly to outlet, not through any extension cord. Before you connect, look for frayed plugs.

Keep in mind

The safety tips discussed here are not difficult to implement. So keep them in mind and try implementing them to keep your house safe from space heater fires.

Contributed by www.firesafetyconsultant.com

A post by Katie Smith (27 Posts)

Katie Smith is author at LeraBlog. The author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views and opinions of LeraBlog staff.
Katie Smith is a Fire Expert and her area of interests and expertise lies in forensic science and accident or crime scene investigation related matters. She often consults Houston Fire Investigation from http://www.firesafetyconsultant.com/.

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