Every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds die as a result of space heaters.
Fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and burns can occur when space heaters are used improperly.
For many people who do not have central heating systems, the space heater offers the only warmth on the coldest days. Choosing the proper unit, ventilating the room, and making sure the unit is away from potentially flammable materials are necessary steps to reduce the risk of accidents.
Some important safety features to look for include:
- Certification by the American Gas Association Laboratory
- A thermal shut-off device which will automatically shut the heater off if it is not being vented properly
- An Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) which will automatically cut off at a reduced oxygen level to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.
Portable space heaters that are properly certified and maintained may be operated safely if the following steps are remembered:
- Always read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels before operating a heater. Space heaters are not dryers for damp clothes. All combustible items should be at least three feet away from the heater. Fire hazards include bedding, drapes, clothes, paper, furniture, and other flammables, Space heaters should only be used on the floor and never placed on counter tops or furniture. Operate a portable heater only when there are people in the room. An unattended heater should be completely turned off or unplugged. Never use your kitchen stove or oven as a space heater.
When you exercise care, your space heater can be a source of warmth in the cold.