Space heater safety guide: 6 must know tips

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If you don’t have a fireplace and you aren’t interested in heating your whole home, a space heater is a quick and easy solution to warm up a room. Though space heaters are easy to use, they also pose some hazards if not used correctly. Consider these precautions when pulling out a space heater or purchasing a new one.

Review safety features

While size (wattage) is an important consideration to keep in mind, look for built in safety features such as tip-over and overheat protection. A tip-over switch will automatically turn off your space heater if it falls over or isn’t placed on a level surface. Additionally an overheat sensor (thermal cut-out) will detect when internal components of the heater are too hot to keep functioning safely and will turn the unit off.

Look for safety certifications

All space heaters should have a label of approval from a certification agency recognized by the Standards Council of Canada (e.g., CSA, UL, ULC). This certification label may be located both on the outside of the package, and on the unit itself. More information regarding acceptable certification marks can be found here.

Don't use with extension cords

Extension cords should never be used with portable heaters. They are too energy-intensive and can overheat the circuit and cause an electrical fire. Plug your space heater directly into an outlet and make sure it is the only thing plugged into that particular outlet.

Never leave unattended

A space heater should never be left on in a room that is empty or unattended. If you leave a room or your house turn it off and unplug it. Though it might be tempting to keep your room toasty while you sleep, do not leave your heater on overnight.

Placement makes a difference

Though your tip-over and overheat protection helps avoid certain dangers, where you place your space heater makes all the difference. Never place your space heater near flammable materials such as bedding and curtains. Keep your heater out of bathrooms as the moisture can damage the unit. Choose an area that is protected from small children and pets. Lastly, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Consider replacement

When you take your space heater out for use make sure to dust it off and check for any damage. If there is any damage the unit should be replaced. If you have an older heater, you may want to consider replacing it as some older models do not have built-in safety features like newer models, or may be less energy efficient.

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