Every winter, people are injured, killed, or lose their homes due to a fire started by a space heater. The National Fire Protection Association asserts that more than one-third of heating equipment related fires are started by space heaters – resulting in around 3,800 fires, 250 injuries, and 115 deaths and per year. If you use a space heater, it is important to take several precautions to make sure that you, your family, and your home can enjoy the warmth while remaining safe and sound.
The most important safety precaution when using a space heater is to never leave it unattended. Always make sure that the heater is turned off before leaving the house or going to bed. This is important even with newer heaters that have a built in thermostat. These heaters often appear to be turned off but are programed to automatically turn back on when the temperature drops below a certain level. One of the easiest ways to make sure that it is completely off is to unplug the heater.
The next step in safely using your heater is to make sure that the heater is at a proper distance from surrounding objects. Space heaters should be kept at at least 36-48 inches from furniture, clothing, window treatments, or any other flammable objects. It is also wise to keep a 3-foot “safe zone” from kids and animals. Be extremely careful when placing your space heater on tables, chairs, or other objects. Toppling space heaters create an extreme level of fire risk.
The last step to safe heating is proper maintenance. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that you are burning the correct fuel. Have your heater cleaned and inspected every year by a heating professional in order to make sure that nothing is broken or clogged. You also want to double check your cords to ensure that none are frayed.