Safety Tips for Your Electric Heater

Avoid making a mistake that could cost you your home – or your life

When winter is on the way and days and nights get cold, a lot of people dust off the old heater, or run out to the store to buy a new one. We are accustomed to this convenience. Heating our space is as simple as plugging in a heater and aiming it at our feet.

However, each year electric heaters cause fires and take lives across the United States. In fact, according to the National Fire Prevention Organization (NFPA) 81% of heating related deaths are caused by electric or portable heaters.

It is important that you observe a few common safety tips to stay warm and healthy this winter.

Safety Tips

Following these simple steps will help make sure that you are safe.

  1. Buy a heater that has been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or other testing organization. The cheapest heaters might be untested, and might lead to disaster. Tested and approved heaters have been shown to be safe under ordinary operating conditions.
  2. Make sure your heater has these safety features: automatic shut off / timer; automatic shut-off for tipping over, and that the grills over the heating elements are not cracked or broken.
  3. Keep the heater out of the way of traffic but visible. This way it won’t get knocked over or cause a tripping hazard, but you will still remember to turn it off before leaving or falling asleep.
  4. Heaters are for adult use. Keep them away from children, especially young children. Children make mistakes and experiment with their environment. They should not be given the chance to make a mistake that could cost their life or your home.
  5. Keep your heater 3 feet from other surfaces, or further if instructions suggest you should do that. The cumulative effect of heated air is that walls, wallpaper, or curtains warm up, dry up, and can catch fire if too close to the heater. A little bit of distance can make a huge difference.

Refer to this form from the NFPA for safety tips and details about different kinds of heaters.

Photo by Lisa Fotios: