How To Stay Warm and Safe Using a Space Heater

space heaterAs we deal with the Midwest winter deep freeze, portable space heaters are a useful supplement to our central heating systems. Bringing a single room up to just the right temperature can lead to overheating in the rest of your home, but a space heater solves that problem. If someone in your home is elderly or just has a “lower thermostat” than most people, a space heater allows you to adjust the environment to their needs. However, space heaters can be dangerous if they're misused. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, improperly used heaters cause about 25,000 residential fires each year, costing over 300 lives. Burns from heaters result in around 6,000 emergency room visits each year. The following tips will allow you to combine warmth and safety:

Choose the correct heater

The basic types of heaters are combustion, convection and radiant. Combustion types burn a fuel (usually kerosene), convection types use an electrical element to transfer heat to a liquid and radiant types (the most common home space heaters) send heat out directly from their glowing electrical elements. The best heaters to use are thermostatically controlled. They're more efficient because they shut off when the room reaches the desired temperature, saving fuel or power. This is also safer; if the unit is accidentally left unattended it will shut off by itself.

Be especially careful when choosing and using combustion heaters

Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully; most heaters of this type are not for interior use and can cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to build up in your home. Always use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer and never use gasoline. An improper fuel can cause the unit to overheat and start a fire.

Use an Approved Space Heater

Make sure your heater is approved by Underwriters' Laboratory or some other nationally recognized testing laboratory. This will prove it has met stringent safety standards.

Proper Placement of a Space Heater

Place the heater on a level surface and keep it clear of foot traffic and at least 3 feet from anything combustible, especially drapes and curtains. Make sure there aren't any metal items near the unit that will become hot and cause an unwary person to be burned when they touch the metal surface. Keep children and pets well away from your heater, and teach all the adults and teens in your home how to use it safely. Never place it on a piece of furniture, which makes it far more likely the heater will be tipped over. For added safety, make sure you buy a unit with a tip-over switch. This will cut the power to the unit if it falls over. If at all possible, plug your heater directly into a wall outlet rather than into an extension cord. If you must use a cord, make it a heavy-duty grounded cord, the shorter in length the better. No matter what you're plugging it into, check the heater's cord for fraying, worn insulation or any other damage. If you find any damage, replace the heater. Periodically check the outlet your heater is plugged into and the plug itself. If either of them becomes very hot while you're using the unit, this may indicate a problem with your house wiring and should be checked out as soon as possible by a qualified electrician. Never use an electric space heater outdoors or in your bathroom unless it's specifically designed for use in a damp environment. Even then, use it only if you can plug it into a GFCI outlet. Don't put a space heater close to a sleeping person or leave one on when you go to sleep. With these methods in place, being cozy and warm will also mean being safe. LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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