10 Space Heater Safety Tips

If you’ve lived in Chicago long enough, you know exactly what you’re getting into come winter – short days, blustery snow and frigid temperatures. With that said – there’s really nothing better than getting home to strip off the layers and thaw out – but before you turn on that space heater, there are a few safety precautions to take.

You may be surprised to find that heating equipment account for more the 65,000 home fires each year, resulting in costly fire damage or even death. Portable electric space heaters are a convenient way to heat large areas, like the living room or bedroom, that require supplemental heating not provided by your main heating source. If you have central AC/heating, you may experience this! However, if not properly maintained and used, they pose a significant threat to your home and family.

Here are a few safety tips to consider when buying or using a space heater:

  1. Stick to Electric: Not all space heaters are meant for the same use. Stick to heaters that plug into walls and are powered by electricity for indoor use. Kerosene or propane heaters are best used in garages/outdoors.
  2. Tested & Inspected: Make sure your space heater carries a label that it has been tested and approved by a recognized testing authority.
  3. Read & Inspect Carefully: It’s easy to just plug in, turn on and warm up, but it’s very important to always read the manufacturer’s instructions and manual. While you’re at it, carefully inspect your space heater for cracks, frayed wires or other damage. Do not use if damage is found.
  4. Turn it Off: Save your wallet and possibly your home by simply turning off and unplugging your space heater when not in use. Do not leave unattended, this includes sleeping.
  5. Use as Instructed Only: Heaters are meant to supplement cozy warmth, not warm your bed, dry clothes or thaw pipes – these uses could pose a fire hazard.
  6. Be Prepared: Make sure every floor of your home and near sleeping areas are fitted with smoke and carbon monoxide alarm; test them once a month.
  7. Make Space: Move space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways, as the pose a hazard. Proper placement is important, give your heater at least 3 feet all the way around.
  8. No Power Strips: Plug your space heater directly into the wall outlet. Using power strips or extension cords could result in overheating or a fire. Try not plug other devices in to the same outlet either. If you are to use an extension cord, be sure to use a short, heavy duty 14-gauge cord or larger. Check the manufacturers manual first. Do not place electrical cords under rugs, this could build heat.
  9. Flat Surfaces: Be sure to place your space heater on a flat surface where it cannot tip over. Never leave space heaters on furniture, in cabinets or tables as they can overheat and start a fire. Consider a space heater with a tip-over safety shutoff feature. 
  10. Make a Plan: Prevention is important, but sometimes catastrophes cannot be avoided. Make sure you sit down with your family to create a plan in the event of a fire. Prevent and prepare.

Keep warm, cozy and, most importantly, safe this winter. If you need fire remediation assistance or simply have questions about fire safety preparedness – contact our experts today.

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