Space heaters are a great supplemental form of heat. They’re compact, efficient and inexpensive to buy, and they’re a great way to keep the thermostat set lower, yet still be comfortable while reading or watching television. That said, if space heaters are used improperly they can present a danger to you, your family and even your pets. The team at Fusion Electric has put together these safety tips to keep in mind when using a space heater this winter:
Make Sure Your Space Heater Is Certified
There are three Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) for electrical products sold here in the U.S. Make sure that the heater you’re using has paperwork that shows that it’s been tested and certified by either:
- UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories)
- CSA (Canadian Standards Association)
- ETL (Intertek Group)
If it has been certified by any one of these NRTLs, you can rest assured that you’re using a product that’s safe when used as directed.
Use Common Sense
Space heaters get hot — obviously! That’s what they’re designed to do, after all. But you’d be surprised how many people seem to forget that fact and end up burning themselves or inadvertently starting a fire by misusing their space heaters.
- put anything on top of your space heater (it takes less time than you think to ignite)
- put a space heater within three feet of furniture or a wall
- use a space heater with an extension cord, which increases the chance of electrical shocks, overheating and fires
- let children play near a space heater, since it can tip over and burn them
- touch a space heater if you’re wet — even if it’s just your hands we’re talking about!
Establish a three-foot safety zone rule for kids, and refrain from using a space heater in a bathroom unless it’s specifically designed for that use. And always make sure that your space heater is positioned on a flat, level surface (carpet with an extra-thick pile can make it more prone to tip).
Look for Safety Features When Purchasing a Space Heater
There are numerous space heaters on the market that have built-in safety features such as tip-over protection (the heater automatically turns itself off if it tips over), and overheat protection.
Make Sure to Buy the Correct Size for Your Space
Putting a space heater that is too large in a small space is not a good idea, and the reverse also holds true. A too-small heater in a large room isn’t going to heat more than a small area of a large room. To size a space heater: simply measure your room to find its square footage. For example, a 12 x 12 room measures 144 square feet. Then, multiply the square footage by 10: e.g. 144 sq. ft. x 10 = 1440. The answer — in this case 1440 — tells you how many watts your space heater should be. If the heater is rated by BTUs, simply multiply the watts by 3.41 to arrive at the correct number of BTUs. (In our example, the correct answer is 4,910 BTUs.)
Follow these safety rules, and you can confidently enjoy the added warmth that your space heater provides you and your family this winter and on those chilly spring mornings and nights as well!