Space heater safety to keep in mind when temps dip - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Space heater safety to keep in mind when temps dip

Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online

When temperatures start to dip, home improvement stores gear up for what's next.

"They're looking for heaters, like personal heaters, space heaters things like that," said Cathy Broden, a manager at a Birmingham Home Depot.

However, before people pick up a space heater to take to the home or to the office, experts have a few words of caution. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are nearly 22,000 fires a year related to space heaters.

Broden tells her customers finding the right space for the portable heater is key for safety. It should be a stable and flat surface with an outlet nearby.

"What you have to be careful with is tipping over, and you have to look at extension cords, which are going to be the leading cause of fire that are contributed to a space heater," she said.

One common concern she gets from customers is the potential to forget to shut a heater off when it's no longer in use. Broden says many of the newer models are equipped to help with that.

"They have programmable timers and thermostats," Broden explained.

She says there are several options to choose from.

"They're going to be designed a little bit differently with how they heat your room. Some work through air circulation, some work through radiation, some are oil powered," added Broden.

Families concerned with little ones running around should consider powered options, according to Broden.

"That's the one I see a lot of people interested in. It does have that benefit of not being hot to the touch."

Birmingham Fire & Resue Service says that furnaces can also be a cause of fires. 

offers some safety tips to help residents properly use space heaters. They recommend cleaning the furnace and checking the filter before turning the heat on for the season.

Here are some more space heater safety tips from Birmingham Fire & Rescue:

-Remember that space heaters are temporary heat sources and should not be used for extended periods of time. Electric space heaters use a lot of energy and may cause an electrical short that can lead to a fire.

-Space heaters need space. Place them at least three feet away from anything that could potentially burn. That includes beds, sheets, curtains, and furniture.

-Keep children and animals away from space heaters.

- Never leave space heaters unattended. If you must leave the room, turn the heater off.

-Never wear loose fitting clothes near a space heater.

-Never use an electric space heater in the bathroom or near water.

-Never place anything on top of a space heater.

-Don't use a space heater to dry items.

-Buy a space heater with an automatic tip-over switch. These will turn it off in the event it's knocked over.

-Only use space heaters that have been tested and approved by an accredited laboratory.

-Space heaters should be properly cleaned like other machines. Check it for dust, lint and paper.

-Check wires on the space heater to make sure they aren't frayed, broken or exposed.

-If you use a kerosene heater, keep the room well-ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

-Before refueling a kerosene heater, make sure the machine has cooled, use the proper fuel and always refill outside the house.

-Have a working smoke detector on every level of your residence in the event there is a fire.

-Plan and practice home exti drills in the event of a fire.

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