When winter hits, your heater will be blasting sometimes all day and night when it gets really cold. Central heat can usually be used without supervision overnight, but space heaters should be attended to at all times. Space heaters frequently cause fires that do serious damage and often result in fatalities.
Do you know all of the safety precautions you need to take with your heaters? Regardless of what kind of heater you own, here are some general safety tips.
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- Choose safe heaters
Safety always begins with your actual heater. Choose a unit made by a reputable company that properly installs safety features required by law. If you’re not sure what kind of heater you should get, check out this heater buying guide from eFireplaceStore.com.
When you find a unit you like, read reviews on every website you can find. For instance, read the reviews on Walmart.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, HomeDepot.com, and any other website where you can find reviews. Read the worst reviews first and look for incidents that might indicate the unit is faulty.
If you discover multiple complaints of a faulty unit, especially if it caused a fire, consider going with a different unit. However, be prepared to find similar negative reviews for other units. It’s getting harder to find high-quality products, so if you run into that issue, you may need to increase your budget to find a good, reliable, safe unit.
- Unplug your space heaters when they aren’t in use
It’s best to unplug your space heaters when they aren’t in use. Electricity flows through the wall and into appliances even when the appliance is turned off. It doesn’t make too much of a difference with your electric bill, but it can cause a fire. In fact, toasters are known to cause fires while not in use.
Any appliance that generates a large amount of power should be unplugged when not in use. If a toaster’s heating element can be energized without being turned on, creating a fire hazard, the same thing can happen with a space heater.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand
Hopefully, you already have a fire extinguisher that you can grab in case your heater catches fire. The ideal type is the ABC type – these are multipurpose fire extinguishers. If you don’t get an ABC extinguisher, you risk having the wrong type that won’t put out a fire in your home.
If possible, mount a fire extinguisher on the wall along with a fire blanket. Both are useful in different situations, but it’s nice to have both. Make sure you have this set up in every main room of your home. If possible, put a smaller fire extinguisher in each bedroom and show your kids how to use one. Don’t just show them in theory, though. Get a fire extinguisher and take your kids out to the backyard to practice.
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- Give your space heaters a break
If you use your space heater as a main source of heat, make sure you give it a break throughout the day. You don’t want to run your heaters continuously. If it’s that cold in your house, try adding more insulation to your walls and roof, and seal up all window cracks and door drafts.
You can buy door draft blockers that are basically like padded vinyl curtains that attach to the top of your door with Velcro. To seal up window drafts, just get a window insulating kit from your local hardware store. You can get enough materials to seal up several windows for under $20.
Window insulation kits are essentially just a piece of shrink wrap you place over the whole window area and then shrink down to make it stick by using a hairdryer.
- Keep at least 3 feet clear on all sides
Keep at least three feet clear around all sides of your space heaters at all times. If you pile items up around a space heater when it’s not in use, you might forget to move those items before you use it again.
It’s important to keep the area clear so the heat doesn’t come in contact with something flammable. Just because a heater doesn’t produce flames doesn’t mean a duration of exposure to heat can’t spark a fire.
Make safety your priority
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Always make safety your priority when dealing with high-powered appliances like heaters. Accidents can happen, but as long as you’re prepared with a fire extinguisher, you should be just fine.