Space heaters are a popular, affordable way to add some warmth to a room, but over the years, we’ve seen that they come with some potential hazards. Did you know that 80% of home heating fire deaths are caused by space heaters? We don’t want to terrify anyone, but this really is a serious issue. We want to keep all of our friends protected, so let’s talk about how to safely use portable heaters.
Why Do People Use Space Heaters?
Before we get into our suggestions for using space heaters properly, let’s discuss some of the reasons why people like them. After all, most of us have heard horror stories, yet we continue to buy portable heaters. Why?
- Easy to use in new additions to a home without needing to extend the existing HVAC ductwork.
- Inadequate insulation — when a room isn’t properly insulated, it will feel cooler than the rest of the house.
- Poor air circulation — if warmed air isn’t making it through the registers in a specific room, you’ll likely seek out an additional heat source.
- Personal preference — some people have a hard time staying warm. Rather than overheating the whole house, they use a portable heater for themselves.
- Can save money on utility bills — space heaters don’t use a lot of energy, so they are perfect for warming small areas. Using a central heating system would cost a lot more!
There are many valid reasons why people find space heaters very useful, so it’s unlikely they’ll be going anywhere any time soon. In the meantime, we just need to learn how to use them effectively — and safely.
Pick The Right Spot
When choosing where to put your space heater, you want to keep two key things in mind. The first is that you want to place it on a hard, level, non-flammable surface so that there’s no risk of it falling over. For this reason, it’s also a good idea to avoid using extension cords since people can trip and hurt themselves, and knock over the space heater.
Additionally, it needs to have a clearing of at least three feet on all sides. The idea is to keep portable heaters from making contact with anything that it can burn and/or set on fire. Whether it’s the carpet, a pile of clothing on the floor, or draperies — if it’s touching, it can ignite. Play it safe!
Don’t Leave It Running
You know the rule about never leaving a lit candle unattended? Apply that same logic to space heaters. Yes, it might seem excessive to have to turn it off just because you’re going down the hall to make coffee, but it’s better safe than sorry.
Even if you’re in the same room, you might not be able to prevent a fire — but you will be able to do something about it immediately. You have less than three minutes before a house fire becomes life-threatening, so every minute counts.
Keep It Away From Pets and Kids
There’s an old saying about curiosity and what it did to the cat, and it prevails because there’s a lot of truth to it. Without understanding the danger, a space heater could be quite intriguing to children and pets. Unfortunately, they can be seriously injured very quickly.
In addition to suffering severe burns, they can create a fire hazard if they reposition or knock over a portable heater. It’s important to make every effort to keep them out of reach, but also make an effort to explain that space heaters are off limits.
Look for Problems
Every time you use your portable heater, make a point to look for any signs of wear and tear. Is the wiring intact? Is the cord frayed in any place? Does the plug look stable? Are there any dents or evidence of melting on the exterior? If you notice anything out of the ordinary, don’t ignore it.
No one wants to replace items, but it’s better to spend money on a new space heater than to go through losing your home to a fire — or your life. It’s not worth hanging onto something that’s damaged and potentially dangerous. If in doubt, throw it out!
Speak to a Professional
Relying on a space heater to get through the cooler months? You should probably talk to an HVAC professional. Not only can we help you troubleshoot some potential problems with your heating system, but we can repair or replace any faulty equipment.
Our NATE-certified technicians can also provide guidance on how to safely use a space heater so that you and your family stay comfortable and warm all winter long. We’ve been serving the Greater Richmond Region for more than 75 years, and it would be an honor to answer your questions. We offer a no-risk, free consultation and excellent customer service. Give us a call today!