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.
Rock Energy recommends these additional space heater safety tips:
- Read all instructions and only use as recommended.
- Do not leave a space heater unattended.
- 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.
- Unplug any other item from the outlet you are using; also try to use a dedicated circuit to avoid overload.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Turn them off before you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Do not use a heater in disrepair or with a frayed cord or damaged plug.
- Place them on flat, level surfaces and never place on furniture, counters or carpet, which can overheat.