Electric space heaters and blankets are great ways to stay toasty warm when the temperature drops, but it's important to use them safely.
“Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States,” said Jared Boggs, Northeastern REMC's Safety Regulatory and Loss Prevention Coordinator. He continues, “More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. It's not only a fire risk, but there's also potential for electric shock when they are not used properly."
NREMC has put together some safety tips so you and your family have a better chance of avoiding significant fire and electric shock hazards:
- When you leave a room or go to sleep, it is important to turn off your electric space heater. If you’re leaving it unattended, it could overheat or fall.
- Always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord to avoid overheating.
- Avoid using an electric heater in a bathroom to keep it away from water. Do not touch the heater if you have wet hands to reduce the risk of electrical shock.
- Avoid plugging heating devices into a power outlet controlled by a light switch to avoid accidentally turning them on.
- Space heaters should be placed at least three feet away from furniture, bedding, clothing, rugs, and anything that could start a fire.
- Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully before using electric blankets or space heaters in your home.
- Inspect heating blankets for dark, charred, or frayed spots and check to see if the electric cord is cracked or frayed.
- Avoid using an old heating blanket. Heating blankets that are several years old may not have the same safety features as a new heating blanket.
- If you have poor circulation in any part of your body, do not use an electric blanket. You may not notice when the blanket is too hot.
While there is no risk for carbon monoxide poisoning with an electric space heater, it holds many other safety hazards if not used properly. In accordance with fire safety, install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas. If you already have them, be sure to test them once a month to be sure they’re working properly.
For more electrical safety tips, visit NREMC's Facebook page.