November 19, 2013 5:42 pm
Around this time every year, as the late autumn chill starts descending on many homeowners, I reintroduce some sobering facts from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
CPSC staff reports that from 2009 to 2011, electric heaters were associated with an estimated 1,100 fire incidents per year, resulting in average yearly estimates of 50 deaths, 130 injuries, and $50.4 million of property loss.
The U.S. Department of Energy (energy.gov) recommends the following guidelines when buying and installing a small space heater:
- Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) label.
- Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
- Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
- Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission also offers these space heater safety tips:
- Give the heater some space. Placing a combustible object too close to a heater is the leading cause of space heater fires. Allow at least three feet of open space on each side of the unit.
- Use wall plug-ins. To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.
- Never run a space heater in an unoccupied room. Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed, especially if young children or pets could come in contact with the device. Unplug the unit as an extra precaution.
- Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.
- Keep electric heaters away from dampness. Operating units in wet areas such as bathrooms can cause electric shock. If you need additional heat in a damp location, purchase a heater specifically designed for this purpose.
- Every room in which you plan to run a space heater should have a smoke alarm. If operating a gas space heater, also install a carbon monoxide alarm.