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Space Heater Safety Tips

During the fall and winter months, space heaters are an effective way to provide temporary or supplemental warmth in a home or garage. Space heaters, however, by their very design and portability present shock, fire and burn hazards when used incorrectly and special precautions must be taken whenever they are used.

If one doesn’t know what these precautions are, then they can learn by enrolling in courses like fire marshal training courses or something similar since fire hazard is also associated with using space heaters. Throughout the course, you will learn techniques on how to handle fire hazardous materials, along with tools and measures you have to adopt. Safety equipment may include alarm, fire extinguisher, hydrant, gasmask, suit, etc.

The following tips for the safe use of space heaters issued by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) are applicable to all homeowners:

  1. Selection: When purchasing a new heater, ensure that it has been tested and certified to the applicable standards by an accredited certification organization.

  2. Instructions: Always follow the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions and all warnings before using a space heater. If you do not have or understand the instructions, contact the manufacturer directly.

  3. Temporary use: Electric portable fan space heaters are designed to provide temporary warmth only. They should never be permanently installed or mounted and should not be operated continuously over extended periods of time. Portable heaters should never be suspended from ceilings or rafters or in any other manner.

  4. Never hard-wiring: Never removing the plug and direct wire a portable heater to a power supply or modify or tamper with the construction of the unit.

  5. Ventilation: In order to avoid overheating, electric fan space heaters must have proper ventilation across the elements. Never position the heater in an area that will limit the airflow to or from the fan.

  6. Connection: Before turning the heater on, make sure the power supply cord’s plug cap is fully inserted into the outlet. To avoid overheating and a potential fire hazard, do not use an extension cord with the heater.

  7. Electric supply: Use of an electrical outlet with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or a ground fault protected circuit is recommended. Only use a properly rated fused circuit or a breaker-protected circuit for powering the unit as indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, consider conducting timely electrical maintenance works (Barnett Electrical – panel upgrade service, and their likes of comparable caliber would be more than happy to help).

  8. Combustibles: To avoid the risk of fire, do not use heating equipment near combustible surfaces. Heaters should only be installed on a noncombustible surface that extends sufficiently beyond the front of the heater. Never operate a heater near flammable materials or in proximity to any volatile or flammable chemicals or vapors.

  9. Air supply: Never block a heater’s air flow. Obstruction of a heater’s air intake or exhaust could lead to overheating and a potential fire hazard. Do not insert or allow foreign objects to enter any air vent as this may cause a potential for electric shock, fire or damage to the equipment and never use the heater to dry clothes.

  10. Maintenance and storage: Always ensure heaters have had sufficient time to cool down after use before moving or storing and be sure to store heaters in a dry location. Check regularly if there are rust marks or degradation signs on the heating element and follow the manufacturer’s instruction for proper maintenance and replacement. Do not use the heater if it has been exposed to any mechanical damage. Periodically clean the heater of any dust or particle accumulation. If you suspect the heater has been damaged or does not seem to work properly, discontinue use and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  11. Extra caution: Use extra caution when operating portable heaters. Do not leave a heater running while unattended or use a heater in a position where it can be easily overturned or fall.

In addtion to hazards associated with improper use, space heaters are one of the most commonly recalled appliances due to manufacturing defects. A list of many of the recalled units can be found at the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s.

More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.

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