Using Space Heaters Safely

Even if you’ve had your HVAC system checked, it’s possible that something could go wrong, and you’re left with no heat in the middle of winter. You may just find yourself occasionally cold, but don’t want to turn up the heating system. Or you may just want to warm one room and not the entire house. For many people, the answer is a space heater.

These convenient appliances can be an occasional alternative to turning up your home’s heating system They’re expensive to run regularly, and should not be used as a replacement for your home’s heating and cooling system.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates space heaters are associated with more than 25,000 residential fires resulting in more than 300 deaths every year.

There are some precautions you should follow before plugging one in. Here’s how to safely use them in your home.

  1. Look for a UL mark or certification. This ensures that this model of the heater has been stringently tested for safety.
  2. Read and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and make sure they are are working properly.
  4.  The three-foot rule. Ensure that when a space heater is plugged in and turned on, it’s at least three feet from anything that could burn, ignite or combust: curtains, décor, clothing, newspapers or other paper items, and anything else that’s flammable.
    1. Keep children and pets three feet away from heaters. They get very hot and cause burns quickly. Every year, more than 5,000 people have burns from space heaters that send them to the hospital.
  5. Plug directly into the wall. Extension cords and surge protectors are not recommended. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s one suitable for a space heater (think big orange ones for the garage.) Anything smaller may not be sufficient for the current, can melt the cord and possibly start a fire.
  6. Check the power cord regularly. Fraying wire or insulation that’s been damaged is unsafe. Don’t use it.
  7. Never leave a space heater on and unattended. Always turn them off when not in use.
  8. Turn the heater off before going to bed.
  9. Use only heaters designed for the indoors. Gas and oil-burning heaters give off dangerous combustible gases and remove oxygen from sealed rooms. They should only be used in places where good ventilation is available.
  10. Buy an appropriately sized heater for the room. Research what type of heater you’ll need before buying one so you won’t end up with one too small or too hot.

As a temporary fix, a space heater can keep you warm until your heating system is back to peak efficiency.

If you’re relying on space heaters because your HVAC system isn’t working, call W. G Speeks today at 804-276-2800. We’ve been taking care of Richmond’s heating and air conditioning since 1943, and we can repair yours. Don’t be cold in your own home—call us today!

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