Portable space heaters strategically placed in areas where a little extra heat is needed offer a relatively inexpensive alternative to cranking your furnace thermostat high to heat your entire house. Unfortunately, these space heaters also significantly increase the risk of fire in your home.
Following are tips for safely operating electric space heaters in your home:
- Do not leave the heater unattended. Nearly half the deaths and a third of the injuries resulting from electric heater fires occur at night when people are asleep and the heater is unattended. If possible, shut the unit off when you go to bed.
- Make sure the power or extension cord used with an electric heater is adequate to supply the amount of current required by heater.
- Make sure the heater has an automatic safety switch that turns the unit off if it is tipped over.
- Look for frayed wires or cracked insulation. If you discover a suspicious cord, do not try to fix it yourself. A professional should make all repairs.
- Before operating the heater, always read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions.
- Keep the unit at least three feet from anything that can burn, especially furniture, bedding, clothing, pets, and people.
- Children and pets should be supervised at all times when space heaters are in use.
- Place the heater on level ground away from combustible walls, curtains, carpets, and furniture.
- Keep the heater away from high-traffic areas to avoid tipping, contact burns, and ignition of clothing.
- Use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Before adding fuel, turn off the heater and let it cool completely.
- Wipe up any spills immediately. Store the kerosene away from heat or open flame in a container approved by the fire department and clearly marked with the fuel name.
- Provide adequate ventilation.