Make Space for Safety When Considering Portable Heaters

November 27, 2020

Using a portable space heater is a great, energy-efficient way to warm up specific rooms in your home without having to crank up the thermostat, but using them doesn’t come without risk! Use the tips below to ensure a safe and warm winter.

1. Look for Safety Features. Today’s portable heater models include a variety of safety features that help take a lot of the worry out of using them: 

Overheat Protection

Space heaters with overheat protection detect when internal components become too hot. When an unsafe temperature is detected, the switch automatically shuts off the unit to prevent overheating.

Tip-Over Protection

Space heaters equipped with a tip-over protection switch will automatically shut off if it’s tipped over for any reason.

Cool-Touch Housing

Cool-touch housing prevents accidental burns when touching the exterior of a heater. This safety feature is particularly useful in areas with active children or pets.

2. Plug Directly into an Outlet. As a rule of thumb, you should always plug portable electric heaters directly into an outlet with sufficient power capacity. Attaching an extension cord to the unit increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.

3. Regular Inspection and Maintenance. Occasionally inspect your space heater, especially when you first purchase it. Frequently clean and maintain it to ensure it’s working safely. Wiping yours down will also help reduce the amount of dust and allergens that may be dispersed around your space. 

4. Shut Off and Unplug if Not in Use. Upon leaving an area, please turn off the portable space heater and unplug it. Many models feature programmable timers that can automatically program on and off times when you sleep or head to work.

5. Keep Heaters Away from Water. Unless it is specifically designed for use in damp spaces (these models feature GFCI plugs), refrain from running a heater in a bathroom, kitchen, or other wet/humid areas. Also, be careful not to touch the heater if you have damp or wet hands, which increases the risk of electrical shock.

6. Be Mindful of Its Placement. It’s generally suggested that space heaters be placed at least three feet away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles. These items can cause a fire risk if they come in contact with a unit’s electric heating element or too-hot surface. Never sit or drape anything on top of a portable heater. Also, be sure that the heater is placed on a hard, level surface.

Educating yourself about the safety hazards that come with the improper use of portable heaters will help you achieve better peace of mind as you keep your home warm, comfortable, and fire hazard-free this winter.