Safety tips for portable electric heaters

space heater

Maybe your furnace is out. Perhaps you’re busy at work in a chilly garage or office. Or you want to turn down your thermostat but keep one room nice and toasty. For these and other scenarios, a portable electric-powered space heater can come in handy at home or at work.

Many portable electric heaters use fan-forced convection heat—circulating air in an interior space—while others use radiant heat in the form of infrared radiation that directly warms people and objects in front of it.

Regardless of the technology, the important thing to remember is that electric-powered portables are the only unvented space heaters safe to use indoors. That’s because they don’t fill your living space with undesirable combustion products like carbon monoxide, which can be generated by liquid-fueled heaters.
But the compact size and convenience come with a tradeoff: Extra diligence and careful operation are required to prevent fires, injuries and property damage.

Three feet from the heat
The most significant risk to safety is placing electric heaters too close to combustible materials like bedding, furniture, drapes, carpets or clothing. Keep these materials at least three feet away from the heater, and prevent anything from getting too close and blocking the release of heat. This could overheat the motor, switch or the wires and cause a fire.

Be the adult in the room
Kids and pets are particularly vulnerable to injury or damage caused by a portable heater. Don’t operate a space heater in a room with a child nearby in a crib or playpen or with an enclosed pet like a dog in a crate. They can become overheated while confined.
For these and other reasons, never leave a working portable heater unattended. Always remain in the room when a space heater is operating.

Plug into safety
Electrical fires can also be avoided with the right precautions. Never plug heaters into extension cords or power strips, as this puts too much resistance on the power draw, raising the temperature at the plug. To prevent shocks or electrocution, never try to open the housing on the device and repair it yourself, and keep it indoors and away from water.

Use with caution and confidence
It’s important to remember a space heater’s limitations. They should never be used as a primary or permanent source of heat. Nevertheless, when operated properly a plug-in portable heater can be a prized appliance in a pinch.

Source: Costco Connection – October 2017