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We Buy Fire Damaged Houses:Tips for Preventing House Fires Caused by Space Heaters

 

As the calendar turns to the winter months and the weather gets colder, more people start using space heaters for warmth and comfort.

The truth is space heaters can be a nice source of extra heat in a home but there are risks that come with using them.

In fact, there are frequently news reports about house fires and people getting injured and even dying due to space heaters.

Some Recent Space Heater – House Fire Examples:

A woman and eight children perished in a house fire in Kentucky that was caused by a space heater.

A mother and her son died in a fire in Georgia that was started by clothing that caught fire from a space heater.

In Rhode Island, an 85-year-old woman perished when a towel that was placed on a heater caught fire.

In Pennsylvania, a space heater fire killed a grandmother, two preschoolers, and two toddlers.

What You Need to Know About Space Heaters to Stay Safe

Portable heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires in the United States and the third-leading cause of home fire fatalities, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Portable and permanent space heaters were to blame for an astounding 85% of home heating fire fatalities between 2011 and 2015, as well as for close to 50% of home heating fires.

Additionally, two out of every five fatal fires involving space heaters are attributed to portable electric space heaters.

Unsurprisingly, the months of December through February see the majority of space heater fires. And the NFPA notes that only 18% of space heater fires happen between 8 a.m. and midnight, the rest occur from midnight to 8 a.m. when most people are sleeping.

But here’s the thing: the problem with portable heaters most of the time isn’t that they aren’t safe, it’s that they are used improperly. Here is more information about using space heaters, including tips for avoiding a fire.

Space heaters come in four primary categories:

Fan-forced heaters
These convection heaters, which are popular in offices and small workspaces, warm air over metal coils and move it around a room with a fan. The fan guarantees rapid heat distribution.

Ceramic space heaters
This is another kind of convection heater, which warms the air above a ceramic heating element. They are a popular option for households with children and animals because their bodies typically stay cool to the touch.

Radiator heaters
With these space heaters, the heater circulates heated oil or water, heating anything in its path or proximity. Because they can hold onto heat for extended periods of time even when the power is turned off, these are frequently used in living rooms, bedrooms, or dens.

Infrared heaters
This final type of space heater is a kind of radiant heater that uses infrared lights to provide heat. Instead of a broader space, they work best for warming one person or a small area. One might be put under a desk in a cool office, for instance.

Tips for avoiding house fires caused by space heaters:

The good news is modern space heaters have safety mechanisms that reduce the possibility of fires.

The U.S. Department of Energy advises buying a new space heater with the UL mark, which shows that its design has undergone safety testing. A business that certifies safety around the world is called UL (previously Underwriters Laboratories).

You should also look for a space heater with the following features:

A “tip over” switch that turns the device off if it moves from the upright position as intended

Overheat safeguards that turn the appliance off if its interior components get too warm

A thermostat that automatically turns the appliance on and off based on the ambient temperature

A sturdy handle that provides a secure grip

A low-oxygen sensor for combustion units that shuts the heater down before a room loses too much oxygen

Before using a space heater you should also closely examine it. Is the cord stiff or frayed? If so, it is time to treat yourself to a new one.

Additionally, make sure the heater is unaffected by dents or cracks, the plug is securely fastened, and the grill is in place so that young children can’t get their hands inside.

Additional Space Heater Fire Prevention Tips

Space heater placement is important. Keep in mind these simple guidelines: three feet from heat or one meter from the heater.

Heaters need to be situated at a minimum 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire, such as bedding, rugs, or furniture.

A three-foot child- and pet-free zone should be established around space heaters, and both should be closely watched when the heaters are on.

Place the heaters on a stable, level surface. Never set them down on carpet, furniture, or cabinets as these surfaces can heat up and catch fire.

Never leave a heater unattended. If you leave the room, start to feel sleepy, or are prepared for bed, turn it off.

After turning off a heater, always unplug it and put it somewhere secure.

Space heaters are only designed to add additional heat. Never heat bedding, prepare food, dry clothes, or thaw pipes with them.

Heaters use a lot of electricity. For that reason, you should plug space heaters into a wall outlet that is not shared by any other appliances.

When using the heater, do periodic checks to see if the plug, cable, wall outlet, or faceplate are hot. Stop using any outlet or faceplate that feels hot right away, and have a licensed electrician replace it. Disconnect the heater if the cable or plug is hot and have it fixed by a qualified technician.

Avoid making space heaters a trip hazard. Place them away from doorways and busy sidewalks so people can’t trip over them.

Put electric heaters in places that are dry. Moisture can harm the internal parts of your heater and electrocute you. If you are wet, never touch an electric heater.

Never use a fuel-burning space heater indoors and only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Before replenishing the heater, let it cool. Keep additional fuel in designated containers and away from the heater.

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Photo by Alirad Zare on Unsplash

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