5 space heater safety tips - HMS National, Inc.

5 space heater safety tips

October 8, 2014

When your heating bill skyrockets, you probably head out to the garage to find your space heater. These portable appliances are great for warming a room in your house for a few hours, but they're extremely dangerous when used incorrectly. The National Fire Protection Association explained that 33 percent of home heating fires are caused by space heaters. To keep your home and family safe and toasty warm, use these five space heater safety tricks.

1. Proper placement
Once you dust off your trusty space heater, find the perfect place to use it. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission explained that a space heater should always be placed on a hard, level surface, like a tile floor. Placing an electronic heater on a rug is a fire hazard. You should also keep the appliance at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. This includes bedding, clothing, curtains and furniture.

2. Keep kids back
If you have small children, establish a rule that they must stay at least 3 feet away from the space heater. You should also use this rule if you use your fireplace. If kids are playing too close to a heat source, they can get burned or leave a flammable object near the heater. Be stern about this rule, and if kids can't obey, have them play in a different room.

3. Don't leave heaters unattended
The golden rule of space heaters is to never leave them unattended. If you're leaving the house, turn off and unplug the heater. The same rules apply when you're going to bed. Many people think it's OK to use a space heater while they're sleeping, but this is extremely dangerous and leads to many fire-related deaths each year.

4. Follow the manual
When in doubt about proper use or maintenance, consult your heater's manual. This is especially important for propane or kerosene heaters, which require specific fuel. You'll also be able to find the appliance's safety features and certifications in this guide. Double-check them against the latest national standards each year.

5. Double-check alarms
Finally, check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before using your space heater. There should be an alarm outside of each bedroom, in the kitchen and near any heating devices. The NFPA recommended testing the alarms monthly at a minimum.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.