The safety of heating equipment is a growing concern. During winter months, the potential for house fires increases as people seek warmth using electric space heaters. Electric space heaters do not have an open flame, but the heating elements can get hot enough to ignite nearby combustibles.
According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for more than 20,000 of the 62,200 reported home heating fires and three-fourths (73%) of the 670 home heating fire deaths in 2005. Placing space heaters too close to combustibles such as carpeting, bedding, draperies, newspapers or books, clothing, furniture, or flammable liquids is the leading factor contributing to home heating fires (27%) and deaths from home heating fires (53%).
Preventing Home Heating Fires
When purchasing an electric space heater, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
Select a heater listed with a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These products meet specific safety standards and come with important use and care information from the manufacturers.
Purchase a heater with a wire grill or other protective guard around the heating element. This helps prevent the hot element from coming in contact with skin or flammable items. Some portable electric heaters heat by circulating oil or water. These units typically have lower surface temperatures and may not need guards.
Before using an electric heater, read and follow all instructions for its operation and maintenance. Follow this basic safety information:
- If you are unable to plug the unit directly into a socket and have to use an extension cord, consider using a heavy-duty cord marked with a #14 gauge or larger wire (#12 gauge is larger than #14 gauge). An incorrectly sized cord could create a fire hazard. If the heater’s plug has a grounding prong, use only a grounding (three-wire) extension cord.
- Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.
- Do not leave the heater operating unattended. Turn the unit off when you are sleeping. Portable electric space heaters are designed for use only as temporary supplemental heating and only while attended.
- To prevent electrical shocks and electrocutions, keep portable electric heaters away from water, and never touch an electric heater if you are wet.
- Do not use an electric heater as a dryer by placing clothing or other fabric over it, and never use a heater to thaw pipes.
- Keep the heater in safe, working condition. Replace missing guards and controls at once. Never operate a defective heater.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Place the heater on a level, stable surface where it will not be tripped over, bumped into, or pushed over. Children should not be permitted to either adjust the controls or move the heater.
As with any type of heating system, install and maintain at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home. Make sure each smoke detector is in good working condition at all times.
In the event of any fire, there are Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs)—known carcinogens—released into your home by smoke and soot. This presents a serious health hazard.
What To Do After A Fire In Your Home
Trained and certified technicians should perform all restoration activities. EMERG-NC Property Rescuers is a professional restoration company that recognizes the many safety issues involving both property damage and quality of life issues when dealing with smoke/soot contamination. With EMERG-NC Property Rescuers, you are ensured the highest quality of service and the return of all property and contents to a pre-disaster condition.
The qualified professionals of EMERG-NC Property Rescuers —“The Paramedics of Property Damage™”—can assist you with any property damage restoration, whether from fire/smoke, water, mold, or biohazard.