Electrical Safety Tips When Using Space Heaters

[fa icon="calendar"] August 29, 2014 / by Home Services Expert

electrical safety - space heatersSpace heaters, those little powerhouses that can provide so much comfort and warmth on a cold night, also are responsible for an astounding number of residential fires.

In fact, space heaters are involved in about 25,000 fires each year that result in 300 deaths, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On top of that, about 6,000 people a year are treated for burns after coming into contact with space heaters.

Clearly, something is desperately wrong. How could an electrical device that so many Americans rely on to bolster their home's main heating source – or be the exclusive source in a small space – reap such harm?

The sad answer: User error. Like many other electrical devices that we rely on – stoves, ranges and even irons – space heaters can trigger accidents and electrical fires when people don't follow sound electrical safety practices.

What to look for to keep you safe

To ensure your safety with an existing space heater, inspect the heater, cord and the plug for any signs of damage or deterioration. Don't take chances; discard a faulty heater immediately because it almost certainly poses a fire hazard. If you're buying a new space heater, check the label. You should see the familiar UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) designation – a sign that certifies its safety features.

The space heater also should be suited to the room or area you intend for it to heat. On the box of most good space heaters, a square footage guide will recommend the proper-sized space heater.

When you get home, check your home's smoke detectors to ensure that they're in good working order before you even take the space heater out of box (much less plug it in). Smoke detectors are your best line of defense – just in case of fire.

Electrical safety tips to keep your family safe when you use a space heater:

  • Do not put a space heater in the vicinity of gasoline, kerosene and other flammable liquids.
  • Position a space heater on a flat, sturdy surface and out of the path of children and pets. In addition, place it away from doorways and passageways where it's likely to be knocked over.
  • Place a space heater away from clothing, window treatments, and other fabrics. A good rule of thumb is at least 3 feet. Keep it further away from water to prevent electrical shock or even electrocution.
  • Minimize the risk of fire by plugging a space heater directly into an outlet – not into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Ensure that the plug fits securely into the outlet. If it doesn't, the plug is probably faulty and the heater should be discarded.
  • Do not run the cord to a space heater under throw rugs or carpeting to disguise it from view. In time, the cord could become damaged to the point of triggering a fire.
  • Check the space heater occasionally while you are using it, placing your hand on the plug, cord and outlet faceplate. Hotness is a sign of potential overheating, in which you case you should unplug the space heater immediately. Set it aside until a licensed Chico electrician can determine the source of the problem.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Pull the plug before you leave the room.

You should have the utmost confidence in the veracity of your space heater – and the cord and outlet that help power it. If you don't, contact Experts In Your Home in Chico to schedule an electrical safety inspection by one of our expert electricians so that we can give you and your family the peace of mind you deserve.

To learn more electrical safety tips, get your copy of our free eBook below today:

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