Time to ditch your old space heater?
If you can’t remember when you purchased your space heater, it might be time to replace it. Just like the flip phones of yesteryear have progressed into today’s modern cellphones, portable space heaters have come a long way, too. Most of today’s models have built-in safety features, such as non-exposed coils and sensors that detect overheating or touch, as well as an automatic shut-off feature in case it gets tipped over.
Regardless of whether your space heater is fresh out of the box or several years old, it should be used safely, since most home heating fire deaths (86%) involve using one, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In fact, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires, right behind cooking.
Along with using a unit that is in good working order, be sure to keep clothing, papers, rugs and other flammable items at least 3 feet away from a space heater. More than half of the heating-related home fires start when items are too close to the heat source, according to the NFPA, including upholstered furniture, clothing, a mattress or bedding.
Make sure to follow these additional space heater safety tips:
1. Read all instructions and only use as recommended.
2. Do not leave a space heater unattended.
3. Plug it directly into an outlet; most power strips and extension cords are not equipped to handle the energy spikes caused by a space heater cycling on and off.
4. Unplug any other item from the outlet you are using; also try to use a dedicated circuit to avoid overload.
5. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
6. Turn them off before you leave the room or go to sleep.
7. Do not use a heater in disrepair or with a frayed cord or damaged plug.
8. Place them on flat, level surfaces and never place on furniture, counters or carpet, which can overheat.
9. Only use space heaters with the certification label of a nationally recognized testing lab.
10. Make sure the heater has an automatic shutoff, so it shuts off if it tips over.