Now that the crazy summer of 2021 is long gone, many Arizonans are looking forward to cooler weather and lower electric bills. Although it tends to get a little nippy on occasion, some of us prefer to rely on temporary heating instead of firing up the furnace. So if you’re one of those people, you’ll probably want to check out these safety tips for space heaters before leaning on the heat source this winter.
Despite the popularity of outdoor standing heaters, this article has more to do with indoor models. At the same time, most of the tips can be applied to both.
1. Use Wall Outlets to Plug in Space Heaters.
Before you get all warm and snug with your space heater, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure it’s plugged directly into the wall socket. Power strips aren’t exactly designed to sustain the power that a space heater requires.
In fact, they can easily overheat and even catch fire. Since wall outlets can hold a higher voltage, they don’t present this problem.
2. Tips on Where to Place a Space Heater.
Knowing what type of space heater you should buy is just as important as knowing where to put it once you get home. Most people think the rule of thumb is a smooth and level surface. But this can be deceiving. Either way, the floor usually presents the least amount of risk. The chances of it getting knocked over and landing on something flammable aren’t as high.
At the same time, if a space heater is situated in the corner with laundry or behind a desk where papers can fall, you might want to reconsider your placement. If you want to put the apparatus on a table or nightstand then have to consider the risks that high traffic areas present.
Bad Placement Consequences and Rules of Thumb.
Aside from property damage or an electrical hazard, a falling heating element could easily result in bodily harm. Additional rules of thumb include avoiding cloth-covered counters, the corners of desks, and rugs (especially synthetic ones).
One of the best tips for space heaters is to not put it where you are but in a place you have to move towards. Keep this in mind if you love hosting outdoor parties during the cool nights in Phoenix, Arizona.
3. The 3 Foot Rule For Space Heaters.
When determining where to put your space heater, you have to consider its surroundings. Besides avoiding tablecloths and carpets, you have to make sure there aren’t any other flammable items nearby. Curtains, drapes, plants, pillows, upholstered furniture and bedding can all present fire risks if they’re too close to the heat source.
In their guide, the NFPA says, “Keep the heater at least 3 feet (1 metre) away from anything that can burn, including people.” Even if you don’t think something could catch fire, you never know. As you can imagine, a Phoenix house can burn quickly.
4. Make Sure Everyone Knows How to Use It.
If you’re going to spend some good money on something that presents a few risks, the rest of the household needs to be informed. Some space heaters require frequent ventilation or certain types of fuel. Sometimes, just teaching everyone how to turn it off when someone else leaves it on can be helpful.
While general care and functionality are definitely topics worth covering, these safety tips for space heaters also need to be discussed. If there are children in the home, they need to understand what the heating device entails and why it may be off limits.
Taking the time to explain the consequences of improper usage and placement ensures everyone is on the same page.
5. Don’t Let The Space Heater Run All Day.
Remember, space heaters aren’t meant to heat your property. They’re designed to add additional warmth to a space for a specific amount of time. So before the device is stuck in a corner and expected to run all night, you might want to review the owner’s manual. A broken furnace may call for temporary usage, but using one as a replacement isn’t a good idea.
Why Should You Make Sure Heaters Get Turned Off?
Since it doesn’t get very cold in Phoenix, some people simply use space heaters during cold nights. But for the most part, when they get left on, it’s because they were forgotten in the garage, on the patio, in a loft or in a drafty home office. So one of the best tips for space heaters is making sure the thing gets turned off when it’s not needed.
Doing so will not only help you save power, but dodge avoidable hazards. While it may be easy to buy one based on a need and forget about it, you have to be cautious with products that can easily start a fire. If you have a hard time remembering to turn it off, you can always buy a smart space heater or an automatic timer for it to plug into.
6. Don’t Leave Space Heaters Unattended.
It may not be as big of an issue in Phoenix, but there are plenty of stories out there on unattended heaters causing house fires. The worst part about many of these cases is that they were avoidable. Just like you shouldn’t walk away from a hot stove, you can’t leave a space heater running by itself. It only takes a split second for disaster to strike.
7. Use Space Heaters With Safety Approvals.
Aside from camping and outdoor gatherings, there isn’t much need for portable heating in the desert. That’s why many local purchases involve used equipment. But this can be risky – even if it’s rarely used. In fact, low usage and maintenance can create even more risks. Because of this, encouraging you to learn the benefits of buying new is probably one of the best safety tips for space heaters we can give.
If you’re shopping for the first time, it’s always a good idea to know how to identify adequate safety ratings. For example, any space heater that has a “safety approval” from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Intertek (ETL), or the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), is recommended for home use.
8. Use Space Heaters With Auto Shut Offs.
Smart technology is usually valued for its convenience. But in some cases, the safety features take the cake. Like we mentioned before, turning off your space heater when it’s not in use is the easiest way to save power, prevent hazards and make sure it lasts. So if you’re going to buy one, find something with a timer, an overheating sensor and an automatic shut off switch for when it gets tipped over.
9. Never Set Space Heaters By Liquids.
If you’re thinking about adding some warmth to your bathroom or kitchen, you might want to reconsider. In fact, you should be mindful of any type of appliance or corded device in areas of the house with water. This greatly increases your risk of electric shock – especially by tubs or showers.
If you must place a space heater on a desk, table or counter, do your best to keep drinks and other liquids away from the surface.
10. Inspect Cords and Replace Bad Ones.
One of the easiest tips for space heaters is to avoid running cords under furniture, carpets or rugs (especially synthetic ones). This eliminates fire hazards if the power source were to heat up. Anytime the cord or unit itself is hot to touch, it should be unplugged immediately. Do not use it until you’ve at least replaced the wiring.
Since we already discussed our reasoning for plugging into an outlet, you should already know that an extension cord is not a good idea. When you’re heating an area away from a power source then you’ll probably have to cross a walkway or run a cord underneath something.
11. Don’t Put Heaters in Exits or Doorways.
This may seem like common sense to those with kids or pets; but don’t put a space heater in a hallway or room entrance. You’re just asking for it to get kicked over. If you live alone, this may seem OK – but you have to consider the tripping and burn hazards that are involved. In the case of a fire or emergency, the heater could also prevent you from being able to escape.
12. Additional Safety Tips For Space Heaters.
The last of our safety tips for space heaters is something that should already be in place. If you bought a heater and your home isn’t equipped with smoke detectors outside of every room – we have a big problem. Not only do they all need to be functioning, but inspected on a regular basis (every month if possible).
It’s also a good idea to put together a fire escape plan and rehearse it when you’re educating the household on the space heater. The more serious you take safety precautions, the better prepared you’ll be for emergencies.
Heating Done Right in Phoenix.
At Canyon State Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, safety is extremely important. It’s why we invest a lot of time in hiring the right people and their training. Just like HVAC systems, your portable devices need to be adequately sized for the space they heat or cool.
If you have any further questions, you can always reach out to one of our certified technicians. Otherwise, feel free to add any additional tips for space heaters in the comment section below.