Home heating fires were the number two cause of home fires in America in 2018. When portable heaters are not used properly, they pose serious fire hazards and electric shock hazards. Approximately one-third of house fires in wintertime are caused by portable space heaters. Much of the property damage, bodily injury and death caused by these fires are easily preventable by following these few simple guidelines.
Check Your Label for Proper Certifications and Standards
An NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) test proves and certifies portable space heaters to assure that they meet specific safety standards. If your space heater meets NRTL safety standards, the lab that certified it will put its logo on your heater.
The most recognizable testing certification labs are UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Intertek Group), and CSA (Canadian Standards Association). On these space heaters, the manufacturers must also provide vital information about user safety and how to care for their products.
Inspect the Unit for Physical Damage
Every once in a while, you should inspect your heater for physical damage, more often when you first bring it home to ensure that there are no defects. You must also keep your heater free of dust and debris, which will aid in ensuring safety. Always unplug your heater before cleaning. Only clean a completely cooled space heater. You can vacuum your heater down to pick up the dust and allergens and then wipe it down with a cloth.
Only Use Space Heaters for Supplemental Heat
A space heater is not meant to warm a whole house, and it simply cannot do it - even in a small house. A space heater is meant to heat a small area, like a bedroom or living room.
Ensure Proper Placement of the Space Heater
Some space heaters are specifically designed for use in places that are damp, like bathrooms. Unless yours is, do not use a space heater in a bathroom or a basement. Heaters that are designed for damp rooms feature ALCI plugs that trip if there's an electrical problem with the heater.
Don't ever touch a space heater when you're wet, as there's a great risk of electrical shock. The more you know about the hazards that exist alongside improper use of portable space heaters, the more confidence you will have when utilizing them.
Unplug and Store Properly When Not in Use
When leaving the area where you have been utilizing your space heater, turn it off and unplug it. Unplugging it is safety advice, but it can also save you money. Did you know that appliances still absorb electricity as long as they are plugged in - even if they are turned off?
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