ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- If used correctly space heaters can be a good way to supplement home heating systems. But, if used incorrectly, they can cause a fire or injury.
Last year the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported space heaters caused 43 percent of house fires in the U.S., 85 percent of those fires resulted in death.
In addition, the Department of Energy(DOE) reported 6,000 people go to the emergency room every year with space heater burns according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The most common space heaters are either combustible (ie. use kerosene, propane or natural gas) and non-combustible (electric). Heaters have a typical range of between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu per hour the DOE said.
The NFPA offers the following checklist to help keep electric space heater users safe.
- Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
- Keep the heater at least 3 feet (1 metre) away from anything that can burn, including people.
- Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
- Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
- Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
- Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic. Never block an exit.
- Keep children away from the space heater.
- Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
- Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.
They also offer these guidelines for people using a kerosene or other combustible space heater.
- Make sure your heating equipment is allowed in your community.
- Keep your heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn.
- Always use the proper grade of the proper fuel, and never use gasoline in a heater designed for kerosene.
- Refuel in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside, when the heater has cooled.
- Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
Need help purchasing a space heater? Consumer Reports has a guide to purchasing the safest space heater.