Space heaters can be an easy way to add a little extra warmth in your home during the chilly winter months. But it’s important to remember they can also be dangerous if used improperly.
While space heaters are often put to work in rooms that don’t receive as much heat as others, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that they cause approximately 25,000 fires a year and about 300 deaths.
At Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative, we want our members to stay safe this winter. If you use a space heater in your home or at your business, please keep these important tips in mind to stay safe and warm:
- Before you ever turn on your space heater, make sure your unit has an automatic shut-off switch. This switch will allow the heater to shut down automatically if it is accidentally knocked over.
- When setting up your space heater, be sure it’s placed on a flat, solid surface where it won’t fall over. Also, keep the unit at least three feet from any other object in the room, including furniture, drapes, bedding, clothes or paper.
- Keep space heaters out of high-traffic areas, such as hallways and doorways, where they could pose a tripping hazard.
- If you’re bringing a space heater out of storage when it has been unused for a long time, ensure that there are no broken or malfunctioning parts, like cracked or broken plugs and loose connections. If wiring is frayed or the unit is worn or damaged, do not use it.
- Never use an extension cord to hook up a space heater, and be careful not to overload the outlet it’s plugged into. Always check to make sure the heater’s plug is securely positioned in the wall outlet.
- Never leave a space heater running without supervision. If you’re going to sleep or leave the house, make sure space heaters have been turned off.
- Do not let pets or children play with or near the space heater.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should not be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
- Make sure you have smoke alarms installed on every floor of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test them once a month to ensure they are functioning properly.
- When you aren’t using the space heater, be sure to unplug it and store it in a safe location.