Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?

Are Home Space Heaters Dangerous?Home space heaters can be a boost to your all-round comfort in winter. They can also help you save money, by providing spot warming so you can keep the furnace thermostat lower. But any auxiliary heater has its hazards. Learn how to use them — but with care.

The Hazards of Space Heaters

Space heaters are the cause of as many as 18,000 residential fires annually in the U.S. Most of the time those fires occur because a home’s residents are using them improperly.

Whether a space heater is powered by electricity or combustion, improper use can lead to injury or death. Electric heaters are often the source of fires because of frayed cords, or from overheating due to plugging into an extension cord. Setting a heater too close to combustible materials may also result in fires.

Improperly vented combustion-powered heating may be the source of toxic fumes; without venting, a heater powered by natural gas, propane or kerosene should never be used indoors.

Safety First

If you plan to use an auxiliary heater to either warm a room or provide spot heating, be sure you adhere to some basic precautions:

  1. Never buy a heater without a safety grill, all its knobs and controls, feet and sensors to shut off the appliance in case it tips over. Dispose of old heaters without these features. Dispose of old heaters with frayed cords.
  2. Never operate an electric-powered heater in a wet room, such as a bathroom.
  3. Set heaters on level surfaces. Do not set them on combustible surfaces.
  4. Never place anything on top of a space heater.
  5. Don’t use auxiliary heaters in a child’s room.
  6. Position room heaters away from foot traffic.
  7. Run the power cord over the carpet, not under it.
  8. Turn space heaters off when you go to bed. Unplug them when you leave the house.
  9. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly.
  10. Purchase “UL Listed” heaters. The Underwriters Laboratory mark guarantees they have been tested for safety.

For more on proper use of space heaters, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. We provide quality service to our Portland customers.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock”