Space Heater Safety Protocols for Homeowners
If you consistently find that your living room seems to be chillier than other rooms of your home, you may want a heating solution that doesn’t involve turning up your thermostat. Fortunately, a space heater can provide you with that much-needed heat without having to waste as much energy as turning up your home’s thermostat. However, these heaters can be dangerous when not used correctly. By knowing the safety protocols below, you can better prevent having a fire outbreak in your home due to your space heater.
Follow the Three-Foot Rule
One of the most critical safety protocols about using space heaters inside homes is that they need to have three feet of space around them without any flammable objects. When it comes to flammable objects, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some of the most common are curtains, bedding, blankets, blinds, and books. By giving them space, you can ensure that the heat produced by your space heater does not cause any damage to your household items.
Place on a Level Surface
Whenever you’re picking out a location to place your space heater, you want to ensure that it’s a level surface. The best choices are hardwood, laminate, and vinyl flooring. The surface must be level so that the space heater doesn’t accidentally fall over and end up overheating or catching something on fire.
Use Wall Outlets Only
You may not give it much thought when you go to plug in your space heater, but it’s important that it goes into a wall outlet. You should never plug a space heater into a power strip or an extension cord as it could overheat and cause a fire. It’s a good rule of thumb to leave the second outlet in the receptacle open as you don’t want to draw too much electricity to the receptacle and blow the circuit.
Only Run When You’re There
One of the biggest causes of fatalities due to fires created by space heaters is the heater catching on fire while the homeowner is asleep. You should never have your space heater running whenever you’re asleep or whenever you’re not at home. You want to be able to react quickly to any problem that may happen with the space heater, whether it gets knocked over or starts to catch on fire.
Install Smoke Detectors
Absolute necessities when you’re using space heaters in your home are smoke detectors. You should have at least one smoke detector installed on every floor of your home. It’s also highly recommended to have a smoke detector installed right outside of the main bedrooms of the home. Make sure that you change out the batteries every few months and test each smoke detector once a month to ensure that it’s actively working.
Purchase Ones With Safety Features
To help eliminate many common space heater problems that result in fires, manufacturers have come up with new safety features. When looking for your new space heater, it’s a good idea to look for ones that have tip-over protection, cool-touch housing, and overheat protection.
Tip-over protection simply means that the space heater will shut off whenever it senses it’s been knocked over. Cool-touch housing helps to keep the outside of the space heater unit cool so that you do not get burnt. Lastly, overheat protection will shut off your space heater in the event that it senses it’s overheating.
Look Over Your Heater Routinely
It’s always good practice to look over your space heaters on a regular basis to ensure that there’s no damage. Specifically, you’re looking for any wiring that has become frayed or has lost its rubber insulation. Additionally, you also want to check the actual housing of the space heater to see if there are any cracks in it.
Always Read the Instructions
Whenever you purchase a new space heater, it’s important that you read the whole way through the instructions. Each space heater is a bit different from the next, and you’ll want to ensure that you understand how to work the specific one you have.
Ensure It’s Got a Safety Label
Whenever you purchase a space heater, you’ll want to look for a specific safety label. This safety label is put on by nationally recognized consumer safety associations when products meet their rigorous safety specifications. The three most common labels that you’ll find include UL, CSA, and ETL.
Opt for Electric Only
Just like most heating systems, space heaters can be designed to use different types of fuel. Most readily available on the market are electric, oil, and gas space heaters. It’s best to invest in electric space heaters when you’re going to be using them indoors. You want to avoid oil and gas space heaters in an enclosed space because they require proper venting. Otherwise, they can be dangerous to your respiratory health.
Keep Clear of Water
Most of us know that the combination of electricity and water can be highly dangerous. You want to keep this in mind when you’re using your space heater. You should not have it plugged in anywhere where it can come into contact with water. This means not putting it in a basement that is susceptible to flooding. Also, you want to avoid using your space heaters in your kitchen and your bathrooms.
Teach Your Children the Dangers
While the potential dangers of a space heater may be pretty clear to you as an adult, your children may not understand them. It’s important to take the time to discuss with your children why space heaters can be dangerous. You’ll want to create a child-free zone around each space heater in your home. Some of the newer space heaters do come with a safety feature that will shut the space heater off if it senses that there is a child or pet too close to it. If you have young children or pets, you may want to consider buying a space heater that has a safety feature.
Use It for Heat Only
A space heater is specifically designed to create heat for a designated indoor area. They’re not meant to dry your clothing, thaw out the pipes in your home, or even warm up your dinner. Make sure that you’re only using your space heater as a supplemental source of heat for your home.
Unplug It When Done
It’s always good protocol to physically unplug your space heater whenever you’re done using it. This helps to ensure that it doesn’t turn back on due to its built-in thermostat or from one of your children turning on the buttons. This also helps to protect the cord from any damage while you’re not using your space heater.
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