With cooler weather on the way -- and already here for some of us -- you may be thinking of hauling that space heater out of its summer storage spot to add some warmth and comfort to your home.
But hold it right there. Did you know that these heating devices are a potential threat to your home safety unless you treat them with the respect they deserve?
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) more than 65,000 home fires in North America are caused each year by accidents and faults involving space heaters
"Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly," the organization warns.
"Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in."
But just following a few basic, commonsense rules can eliminate most of the risks and allow the heater to safely do the job it was supposed to.
Here's the countdown, courtesy of ESFI:
- Make sure your space heater has a label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep, and don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
- Locate space heaters away from high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Don't plug other devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place them on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
- Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
Jim Zezza is a Claims Service Manager with Joyce, Jackman & Bell Insurors. you can read Jim's bio HERE.