Space heaters can be portable or fixed units, and are used for heating individual rooms to supplement or replace the heat generated by more traditional means, such as a furnace or boiler. Space heaters can be powered by wood, propane, electricity, or several other fuels, and there are a number of general safety rules that need to be kept in mind if they are to be used in a responsible and effective manner.
Toddlers and Seniors Are At Risk
The age groups at the greatest risk of injury caused by space heater accidents are toddlers under age five and seniors over the age of 70. Men between the ages of 30 and 69 are also at an increased risk of injury; this may be due to the fact that men in this age group have a greater tendency to tackle appliance repairs on their own. Most space heater accidents occur in the living room of a house or apartment, and one possible reason for this is that smoke detectors are often not installed in the living room of a home.
Space Heaters Are Responsible for Accidents and Fatalities
Electric space heaters are responsible for an unfortunately large number of accidents and fatalities as a result of their being used improperly in domestic settings; rather than any technical faults in the appliances themselves, it is usually the behavior of their owners that is at fault. In some cases, accidents are caused by individuals sitting or standing far too close to the heater, or allowing flammable items to come too close to the unit. Leaving the heater on overnight is also often another cause of tragedy.
Take Special Precautions When Using Space Heaters
Special precautions need to be taken by anyone using an electric space heater anywhere in their house. Electric space heaters should not be used in areas of a home where they are likely to come into contact with water – such as the kitchen or bathroom – and should always be switched off when there will be no one in the room. Timers should never be used to automatically switch an electric space heater on at a predetermined time.
Placement of the Space Heater is Key
If the room in which the unit is being used is small, the heater should usually be kept on one of the lower temperature settings. Regardless of the size of the room, the heater should be placed at least three feet from doors and furniture.
Never Obstruct The Space Heater
A space heater should never have anything draped over it or be used to dry off wet shoes or clothing, as placing these items too close to a space heater may cause them to combust. It is also important to ensure that the air grilles are never obstructed. The appliance should be immediately switched off if you notice any strange smells or noises coming from it, or if there is any trace of smoke in the room.
Avoid Contact With the Heating Element
Before cleaning the unit, switch the heater off and then unplug it from the wall, and allow it to completely cool down. Water or cleaning fluids should not be allowed to come into contact with the unit’s heating element.