SYLACAUGA, Ala. – As it is getting colder, we all are looking for ways to keep warm. Space heaters are now one of the most common and popular ways of staying warm in your home during the winter. However, if certain safety recommendations and precautions are not followed, they can become dangerous very quickly.
Before you purchase a heater, look into which kind would best suit you and follow the recommendations listed:
- Make sure it is Underwriters Listed (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) certified. Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection. Also make sure it has an auto shut-off so it will turn off it tips over.
- Have it installed by a qualified professional according to local codes and manufacturer instructions.
- Have the heater, as well as other heating equipment, inspected every year by a qualified professional.
- Place the heater on a solid, flat, nonflammable surface. Never place a space heater in the way of foot traffic or where it would block an exit.
- Always make sure to keep the space heater at least three feet away from anything flammable, and create a kid and pet free zone three feet around the heater.
- Turn off space heaters before you leave the room or your home or when you go to sleep.
- Be sure to buy the correct fuel specified by the manufacturer if you have a fuel burning space heater.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month. Over 100 people died in home fires in 2016, over half of which the homes did not have smoke detectors.
- Never use an extension cord to plug in a space heater. Plug the heater directly into the wall. Many extension cords are not made to handle that much electricity.
- If a fire occurs in your home, get out as fast as you can and stay out. It is estimated once a fire starts, you have approximately three minutes to get out of the home before it becomes life-threatening.
Heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires, deaths, and injuries. Half of all home heating fires occur in December, January, and February. Space heaters are most involved in these fires accounting for two out of five fires (40%), 84% of associated civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage. Many space heaters now have safety features to help prevent fires, but you should still take precautions to stay safe and warm this winter.