Keep it Safe: Heater Safety Tips
Jeanie Wong asked:

Although heaters can account for a number of home heating fires, the heaters now being manufactured are relatively safe. Nonetheless, precaution must be taken when operating any type of heating device.

Generally, oil heaters are considered safer than regular electric convection or radiant heaters because they have lower surface temperatures and require less consideration of air flow through/over the heater itself. These heaters create warmth by warming heat-conserving oil inside the heater. The oil is then circulated throughout the coils of the radiator to evenly distribute heat throughout the room. However, these types of heaters are only suitable for small, personal spaces ranging from 40 square feet for an under-desk style unit to 150 square feet. Another added benefit of a small desk-type unit is that these are extremely energy efficient and do not blow fuses even when hooked up to the same power grid as the computer that sits on top of the desk they are placed under.

Once again, it should be noted that although the high intensity of the output of space heaters may make them more susceptible to fires, most portable electric space heaters now being manufactured include many performance requirements in order to enhance user safety.

Nonetheless, portable space heaters have received a bad reputation recently. Although these types of heaters may present a fire hazard when tipped over, almost all portable electric heaters now being produced boast safety features such as safety switches that will automatically turn off the heater until it is turned upright, overheat protection functions, and indicator lights which help you know when the heater is plugged in or turned on. As well, modern space heaters are also subjected to rigorous laboratory testing and must pass certain safety standards.

However, when using any electric heater, caution must be exercised in order to reduce the risk of fire. Follow these tips to ensure safe heater operation:

1. Use the heater on the floor for stability - never place a heater on furniture since it may fall and could result in a fire hazard, and never leave a heater unattended.

2. Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets, as placing anything on top of the cord could cause a fire by overheating.

3. Be sure the plug fits properly into an outlet since a loose plug can overheat. Have a worn-out plug or outlet replaced if necessary.

4. Keep the heater away from debris and paints, solvents, and other flammable liquids.

5. Ensure proper working order of your heater by replacing missing controls or guards at once, and never operate a defective heater.

By being smart about your heater, you can safely keep your area warm and comfortable during the cooler months.

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