Space heaters are known for being a low-cost way to heat a space. However, they pose a risk of electrical fires if homeowners use them incorrectly.
Space heaters account for 25,000 residential fires every year and one-third of all winter house fires. In the past year, space heaters have caused over 300 deaths and over 6,000 hospital visits due to burns.
Recently, in March 2017, a space heater fire claimed the lives of a 91-year-old developer and his 87-year-old father-in-law. The space heater ignited an electrical fire because of an overloaded power strip. This is only one case out of hundreds of space heater fatalities.
House fires have different causes. However, when one is started by a space heater, it is due to the fact the unit is old, cheaply made, or not properly maintained or used. Homeowners should therefor prioritize researching space heaters because of the numerous types, sizes, and brands available.
If you are thinking of buying a space heater, first ask these questions: “Do I need it?” “Are there other alternatives?” “Am I trying to heat a small area or a room?” and “Is there a safe area to use it in the house?”
What to Look for When Buying a Space Heater
Purchasing a space heater may seem simple, but not knowing the important features and the correct types of heaters can be detrimental. When buying a space heater, look for the following:
- Safety features such as: a protective grill, automatic thermostats with an automatic shutdown function if it over heats or turns over, and the UL (Underwriter Laboratory) Certified Mark.
- Unvented should never be used inside the house, intended for a barn or in an open area
- Vented are meant to be used in a house
- Convection: heats entire room
- Radiant: heats small surrounding area
- Energy efficiency
Prices of space heaters range from $15 to hundreds of dollars. $15 heaters are tempting because they are inexpensive. However, they will cost your family more if they cause a fire. An expensive heater can be deadly, too, if not properly maintained or misused.
Space Heater Safety Tips
- Keep your space heater three feet away from any flammable material, including furniture, curtains, clothes, and rugs
- Do not use extension cords to power your space heater
- Keep the space heater on a flat solid surface
- Shut off the heater if not in use
- Do not use if power cord or wall heater feel hot to the touch
- Don’t use if there are damaged power cords or exposed wires
- Do not use around water
- Frequently clean to remove dust
Before purchasing a space heater, call Grounded Solutions to check or install smoke detectors. Grounded Solutions is a full-residential and commercial electric-service company that offers outlet and switch replacement as well as frayed wire repair and more.