Use space heaters safely
If your organization makes use of space heaters in offices or smaller spaces, it’s important to take extra care to prevent a fire. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable space heaters are responsible for an average of 1,700 fires every year. Of course, many of these fires occur in homes, but space heaters can create a hazard in any type of building.
Most space heaters are either electric or use a type of liquid fuel, such as kerosene or propane. Liquid fuel heaters can create a risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, so if you need a space heater, electric is the safer route. Church Mutual has compiled this list of safety precautions you should take when using an electric space heater:
- Buy space heaters with safety features. Such features could include tip-over detection and automatic shut-off after a certain amount of time.
- Read before using. There’s a reason why every appliance contains a user manual—it can help you use the device safely. Read all manuals and safety warnings provided by the manufacturer.
- Avoid carpets and rugs. You should always place space heaters on hard surfaces to reduce the risk of them tipping over.
- Limit your wattage. Do not plug electric space heaters into outlets that use the same circuit as other high-wattage appliances and avoid power strips and extension cords. Space heaters draw a large electrical current that power strips and extension cords may not be equipped to handle. Additionally, check the cord, plug and wall outlet for excessive heat during use.
- Keep heaters at least three feet away from items that can burn. This includes curtains, furniture and other flammable materials. Flammable liquids, such as paint or gasoline, should not be stored in the vicinity of a space heater.
- Keep up to date on your smoke alarms. If your facility’s smoke alarms are battery powered, you should be changing the batteries of the smoke alarms every six months and testing them to make sure they work. Never use a space heater in an area without a smoke alarm.
- When no one is around, the space heater is unplugged. Even if you just leave the facility for a few minutes or a quick errand, unplug the space heater. Fires have started because people have left these appliances unattended.
While space heaters can be convenient, they pose a significant hazard if you don’t take care.
For additional safety information, risk control resources and more, visit churchmutual.com/safety.