Space heaters can keep you cozy during the colder months, but can also be a major fire hazard if used incorrectly.
Earlier this year, a horrific fire in the Bronx that killed 17 people once again brought attention to the hazards of home space heaters. Space heaters can be a welcome addition to your central heating system or a handy and inexpensive way to heat a space without fixed heat. But it's also extremely important to exercise great caution and care when using a space heater.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters are responsible for more than 25,000 house fires every year, in addition to a number of deaths and injuries. With the risks associated with space heater usage, it's no surprise people are hesitant about using space heaters in their homes. As long as you follow best practices, space heaters aren't inherently dangerous.
Here's what you can do to keep you and your home safe while using space heaters. (For more winter safety tips, check out everything you should stock up on before a winter storm, and how to keep your pets safe and calm during a winter storm.)
There are four types of space heaters:
No matter which type of space heater you buy, be sure to check that it's a recent model with an Underwriters Laboratories label. Also, check to see what size room the heater is designed for, and generally keep to devices appropriate for the room in which you plan to use them.
When purchasing a space heater, consider the following safety features:
Extra safety features are good to keep in mind -- especially if you plan to use the heater in certain contexts. If you have pets or children, tip-over switches and nonmetal faces are important features to consider. Likewise, if you plan to use the heater without constantly monitoring it yourself, you will probably want to consider an automatic shut-off feature, or a thermostat that allows you to set a certain target temperature.
Space heaters have caused many house fires, injuries and deaths over the years. If you plan to use a space heater during the cold winter months, you'll want to make sure you are using it properly to avoid potentially fatal mistakes.
To keep yourself and your home safe while using a space heater:
When it's cold outside, a space heater can be the perfect way to create a warm, comfortable living area. Although space heaters can be a hazard, when used correctly they are a convenient, affordable option when you're looking to quickly and easily supplement your home's central heating system.