Well Mother Nature has done it again and pulled a very fast 180º weather change and we suddenly find ourselves digging out our hats, scarves and mittens…and contemplating turning on the heat at home! We are resisting turning on the heat until Thanksgiving, but we may have to cave earlier or activate a space heater! If you are trying to conserve your heating and using space heaters, let’s look at some very important do’s and don’ts! After all, heating equipment is responsible for over 65,000 house fires each year…let’s reduce those numbers by being as safe as possible.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instruction manual before operating your space heater. This will tell you the best operating conditions for your particular heater and list warnings. If you do not have the manual, you can usually find a digital copy by searching online
- Before plugging the heater in, give it an inspection. Look for any cracks or breaks in the housing; check the cord for any fraying or exposed wires. If any of these exist…throw away the heater!
- Plug your space heater DIRECTLY into a wall socket! Do NOT plug a space heater into a power strip or extension cord. The power required for the heater is too much for these devices can lead to overheating/fire. It is also recommended that the space heater be the only item plugged into the socket.
- Never leave the heater unattended. Turn off and unplug the heater when you leave the room it’s being used in or are going to bed. Do not set up the heater in an area that people or pets will be liable to knock in to it or trip over the cord.
- Make sure that you are placing the heater on a level and stable surface (so that rickety coffee table you’ve had since college is not recommended). Do not place on other furniture, tables, chairs or carpet. What? No carpet? If you are placing your heater in a room with carpet, place it on a stable, non-flammable item such as a tile. This allows for air flow under the heater making it less likely to overheat and start a fire.
- Make sure that your heater is placed at least three (3) feet away from anything that can catch fire. This includes papers, clothing, drapes/curtains and rugs.
- Space heaters should never be used to warm your bed; dry clothing or other fabrics; cook or heat up food or to unfreeze pipes.
- Make sure that you have ample smoke detectors in your home. You should have one on each floor and have one outside of all sleeping areas. Test them once a month as well.
A space heater is a fantastic appliance, so long as you take the proper precautions and follow these safety rules. Of course, you could always just put on a sweater and some heavy socks (my father’s favorite saying when I was growing up!).