How to Properly and Safely Use Space Heaters

 Frigid cold weather is officially upon us here in Central Indiana, and for many of homeowners, that means pulling out a space heater to make the house a little toastier. But before you plug in your space heater, it's important to ensure you're using it properly and safely.

"Each winter, Michaelis unfortunately responds to several fire restoration jobs resulting from unsafe or improper use of space heaters," says Rick Michaelis Jr. "Fires typically begin because a space heater catches something on fire nearby, or from an electrical shortage in the space heater or outlet."

Here are some tips for safely and properly using a space heater.

  1. First, make sure you're using the right kind of space heater, one meant for indoors. Electric space heaters that plug into the wall are meant for indoors, whereas space heaters that use fuels such as propane or kerosene are meant for outdoor use.
  2. Next, take care not to overload your outlet or circuit in the room. Have you ever blown a fuse in the bathroom from running a hair dryer? Think of a space heater like a hair dryer. However, most living room or bedroom outlets don't have a GFCI like bathroom outlets do, so they will melt if overloaded, resulting in a fire. To be safe, check the wattage of the space heater to know if your circuit can handle it, and unplug or turn off other appliances or devices that use a large amount of electricity, such as televisions and stereos.
  3. Ensure the space heater is away from furniture and other flammable items and materials. Many people place a space heater right next to a chair or couch, but these items – and the blankets on them – could potentially heat up and catch fire. Also keep space heaters clear of curtains, stacks of magazines or books, mail and other items.
  4. Place the space heater on the floor rather than on top of a piece of furniture, and check to make sure the bottom of the space heater has a solid base that doesn't heat up. You don't want the floor underneath the space heater to get too hot and catch fire. If the space heater is on carpet, ensure it is stable and can't easily fall over.
  5. Educate children to stay away from space heaters. Knocking it over or putting something in it can create a danger to them and the home. Also watch your pets to be sure they don't knock it over.

By following these tips, you can help keep your home and your family warm and safe this winter.

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