Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top 10 Electric Space Heater Safety Tips by Sam Streubel

Approximately 7% of residential house fires are associated with electric and propane space heaters according to the CDC and the Consumer Products Safety commission.
The overwhelming majority of space heater accidents are the result of improper use, failure to follow the manufacturer's instructions, or incomplete knowledge of basic space heater safety.

The following safety tips are a medley of conventional wisdom, reader ideas, and some of my own.

1. Make sure the space heater is UL (Underwriter's Laboratory) listed.

2. Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features like overheat protection and a tip-over switch.

3. Locate the space heater on a level surface away from foot traffic.

4. Keep at least 3 feet away from combustible items such as drapes and furniture. This is the number one cause of space heater fires.

5. Don't use the space heater as a dryer for clothing, wet towels,etc.

6. If you have little ones running around put the space heater into one of those scissor-like kiddie corrals so the kids can't get at it or buy a space heater capable of wall mounting. A number of micathermic heaters can be mounted on the wall but some models have been known to pose safety hazards; take care to read the reviews.

7. Although some space heaters are sold as waterproof I don't recommend their use in bathrooms. However, if you need to warm up the bathroom you can still plug the space heater in a few minutes before you plan on bathing and then remove it.

8. Personally, I would never use one of those skinny brown Christmas tree type extension cords for a space heater. Plug the heater directly into a wall outlet or better yet, use a power strip between the space heater and outlet.

Most electric space heaters draw 12.5 amps on a typical 15 amp household circuit so you don't have much spare capacity for additional appliances.

9. Using a power strip will protect both the space heater and your home's wiring from power surges and overloaded circuits. Many new space heaters, much like TV's and cell phone chargers, are still on even when not in use. The use of a power strip will enable you to shut the power to appliances completely off when you go to bed or leave the house.

The ability to shut the power off completely also means a reduction in "phantom loads," or the electricity consumed by "always on" appliances. It's good for the environment and your pocketbook too.

10. If your small space heater is running on the same electrical circuit as your home computer, plug the space heater into a separate power strip.

About the Author
Put your new found wisdom to work at Sam's Guide to Small Space Heaters

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