During the colder months, many families throughout the country rely on space heaters to help heat their homes. However, if not used properly, the devices could pose a serious fire risk.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC), portable electric heaters are involved in about 1,100 fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths, dozens of injuries and millions of dollars in property loss. Taking this one step further, the National Fire Protection Agency notes that 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, resulting in about 80 percent of home heating fire deaths in the U.S.
To help keep your family safe, warm and cozy, the CPSC offers the following tips for using a space heater:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, outside all sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Test the alarms once a month.
- When purchasing a space heater, make sure it has a safety seal of a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL.
- Keep curtains, sofas, beds, clothes, papers and other flammable materials at least three feet away from the device. This includes the front, sides and rear of the heater.
- Before using your space heater, make sure it’s placed on a stable, flat surface in a location where it can’t be knocked over.
- To reduce the risk of fire, don’t use extension cords or power strips with your space heater.
- Don’t run the heater’s cord under rugs or carpeting. This can damage the cord, causing it and nearby objects to burn.
- Be sure the heater plug fits tightly into the wall outlet. If not, don’t use that outlet to power the heater.
- If the heater plug, cord, wall outlet or faceplate is hot when the space heater is in use, turn it off and have a qualified electrician come inspect the unit.
- Make sure to turn the heater off when leaving your home or heading to bed at night.