Are Space Heaters Safe?

Space heaters were responsible for 40 percent of home heating fires from 2009 to 2013, and 84 percent of residential heating fire deaths during this period. These statistics alone are enough to make you question the safety of space heaters. With such fires reported in the media, perhaps you’ve heard of a house fire caused by space heater use, and wonder if they are really safe?

The answer is yes, space heaters themselves are safe to use and must meet certain consumer safety standards. Safety issues arise when space heaters are not used properly or in a safe manner. The top causes of space heater fires are:

  1. Operating a space heater too close to flammable items
  2. Running space heaters unattended
  3. Operating a fuel-burning space heater with a dirty chimney
Are Space Heaters Safe?

There are two main types of space heaters: electric space heaters and fuel-burning space heaters. To operate your electric space heater safely and reduce your risk of danger, always follow the usage instructions below:

Keep the area surrounding your space heater clear at all times. The 3-foot radius around your space heater should be free of flammable items, such as curtains, blankets, papers, toys, and other materials.

Keep children away from space heaters. To avoid accidental burns or tipping the space heater over, keep children away from the space heater at all times. Create a child-free zone in the 3-foot area surrounding your space heater.

Never operate a space heater unattended. If a space heater is in operation, a responsible adult should always be present. Never leave a space heater running when the house is empty, or while you’re sleeping.

Use the space heater on a flat surface. Sitting a space heater on an uneven surface may cause it to tip over, and ignite nearby items.

Always plug your space heater into the wall socket. Do not operate a space heater with an extension cord. Extension cords are not meant to be permanent power solutions. They may overheat, or cause someone to trip, knocking over your space heater.

Purchase an electric space heater with added safety features. Models are available with automatic shutoff systems which will turn the unit off if tipped over.

Carbon Monoxide is the Silent Cold Weather Killer

When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. But improperly operating or improperly vented appliances can produce elevated — even fatal — CO concentrations in your home. Likewise, using kerosene heaters or charcoal grills indoors, or running a car in a garage, can cause levels high enough to result in CO poisoning.

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Why Is My Heater Blowing Cold Air?

Wondering why your heater is blowing cold air? It might sound silly, but the thermostat is the first thing you want to look at. Confirm the system is set to “auto and not “on.” If the thermostat is set to “on” then your heating system will blow continuously, even when it isn’t heating the air being released, thus blasting cold air. Flipping it to “auto” will make sure the heating equipment only blows when it’s really heating the air to keep your home warm and comfortable.

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