It’s cold outside, using a space heater? Follow these safety tips to protect your home from fire

As temperatures drop, many will turn to electric space heaters to heat their homes. If you use a space heater, don’t forget to remember these safety tips that can protect your home from fire.

Michiganders are no strangers to the cold, we’ve already had a frost warning in October and the first snow of the season. Some may not be ready to turn on the heating, others struggle with building management to get the heating on, anyway, many people break out those portable electric heaters, myself included!

Space heaters can be a convenient way to supplement heat in your home, but can pose a significant safety risk if not used properly.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), heating is the second leading cause of residential fires.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 1,100 fires per year result from the use of portable electric heaters. They say these fires result in about 50 deaths, dozens of injuries and millions of dollars in property loss.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters with inadequate safety features, space heaters placed near flammables, or space heaters that are not properly connected.

What should you do to protect yourself against a fire in your home?

Here is ESFI’s list of tips to keep you and your home safe and warm during the cold season:

  • Connect space heaters directly to a power outlet, do not use an extension cord or power strip

  • Do not connect other electrical appliances to the same socket as the heater

  • Before use, inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections. If damage is found, do not use the heater

  • Never leave a heater unattended, turn it off when you leave a room or when you go to sleep

  • Always remove the plug from the socket and store your heater in a safe place when not in use

  • Do not let pets or children play too close to a space heater

  • Space heaters should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothes or defrost pipes

  • Heaters should be at least three feet away from anything that could burn, such as clothing, rugs, or paper

  • Keep space heaters out of high traffic areas where they can be a tripping hazard

  • Place heaters on flat, flat surfaces, never on cabinets, tables, furniture or carpet

  • Make sure your space heater’s label states that it is listed by an accredited testing laboratory

  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully before use

  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas

  • Test smoke detectors once a month

Check out our fire safety page for more information on how to protect your home from fire.

Related: Oakland County apartment complex residents without heat for weeks

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