Do you know the three reasons why a space heater can cause a fire, and what the No. 1 reason is?
As a home security specialist, one of the areas of safety that I’m always screaming about during the cold weather is space heater safety, including making sure people know the reasons why such a little device could bring an entire house down in ashes.
The National Fire Protection Association names these three reasons that a space heater can start a fire: The unit is too close to a flammable agent like a mattress or bedding; the space heater is on but not attended; and dirty chimneys.
The NFPA offers these tips for electric space heater safety:
-Require a three-foot childfree zone around space heaters.
-Supervise children when a space heater is going.
-Put the “space” back in space heater: Give it ample personal space—three feet of it—from anything else.
-Make sure the unit has no broken or malfunctioning parts.
-The unit should always be on a flat, solid surface.
-Use only a unit with an automatic shut-off so that it shuts off if knocked over.
-Never use extension cords.
-Never leave a space heater on when absent or asleep.
Here are the NFPA’s tips for fuel burning space heaters:
-Use only the fuel that the manufacturer specifies, and the proper grade if the fuel is liquid.
-Refuel the unit only outside or in a well-ventilated area.
-Keep a window open when the unit is in operation.
-Newly manufactured gas space heaters have a mechanism that shuts it off if it detects low ambient oxygen. If your old unit doesn’t have this feature, replace it.
-Allow at least five minutes to lapse if your gas heater pilot light goes out, before relighting, and light your match before you turn the gas on to avoid a flashback.
-Never light the unit if you smell gas from it. Instead shut off all controls, open the doors and windows, then call a gas service tech.
Knowing the reasons why a space heater can start a fire is just the beginning of safety; you must also mind the rest of these tips.