Space heaters are popular among homeowners in Colorado because, as portable appliances, they can heat a small space quickly and inexpensively. It requires less energy to run a space heater than to raise the temperature of an entire home by a few degrees. However, space heaters can be dangerous, too.
In its November 2011 report, the National Fire Protection Association reveals that heating equipment was involved in an estimated 58,900 home structure fires, 480 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries and more than $1.1 billion in damage.
Space heaters caused a disproportionate percentage of the accidents:
- 79% of all home heating-related civilian deaths
- 66% of all home heating-related civilian injuries
- 52% of all home heating-related property damage
If you use space heaters, please remember to read (and follow) the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage, and to obey basic safety standards.
First, never place anything flammable within three feet of a space heater. Space heaters get very hot, very quickly and can ignite rugs, paper and curtains. Next, make sure your space heater is placed on the floor on level ground. Do not rest it on books, or on furniture. Also, make sure to turn space heaters off when leaving a room, or when going to bed. Space heaters are not meant to replace whole-home heating and should not be left unattended under any circumstance.
The Underwriters Laboratory makes a list of general safety tips available on its website. Considering how much damage space heaters can cause, the list is worth committing to memory.