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Colder weather means understanding safety with space heaters


In Texas, the winters usually do not get cold enough to necessitate heating your entire house, but you may get chilly enough to want to use a space heater to warm up a small area. It is crucial to understand the common hazards that space heaters present, especially if you are unaccustomed to using them.

Space heaters pose a significant risk of fires and electric shock when people use them improperly. The Electrical Safety Foundation International claims that more than 65,000 fires occur in homes across the United States each year because of heating equipment. In fact, heaters, particularly portable ones, are the second most common cause of home fires in the country.

This does not mean you should get rid of your space heater and put up with being chilly or having a high utility bill this winter. You simply need to understand the ways in which to use these devices safely. The important tips for proper space heater use include the following:

  • Check online for reports of malfunctions and recalls involving your model of space heater at the beginning of each heating season.
  • Regularly inspect your heater for signs of damage and wear and tear, especially to the electrical cord.
  • Never place the cord under a carpet or area rug or plug it into an extension cord, which can overheat the cord and cause a fire.
  • Place the heater in a safe spot where you will not trip over the cord or knock it over.
  • Put at least three feet of space between the heater and combustible objects, such as drapes, furniture and bedding.
  • Turn the heater off before you go to bed or when you leave the room.

Additionally, you should never put a space heater in a child’s bedroom or leave it unattended where children or pets can knock it over or play with it.

Fires and electrocutions by space heaters often occur when people do not use these devices in a safe manner, but not all mishaps are user-related. A faulty product can cause an injury even when you use it safely, in which case you may be eligible for compensation.