Is my space heater dangerous? 

Many may have read or heard about the tragic fire in New York this past week. Investigations are now indicating the fire that took 17 lives and injured many was due to a space heater. 

In the colder temperatures many turn to space heaters at home or work to give them a little extra coziness in specific rooms. While handy, these heaters can be extremely dangerous. 

As risk advisors, we would recommend avoiding them when you can. If you do still need one, follow the steps below to ensure you are using them as safely as possible. 

1. Keep them 3 or more feet away from flammable items

Keeping your heater a safe distance from blankets, your bed, clothing, books, magazines, etc., lessens the risk of something becoming overheated or catching fire if there is a spark. 

Never keep your heater directly on your bed or couch. 

2. Do not sleep with space heaters turned on

While sleeping, our bodies are obviously not as alert and we are more vulnerable to a fire spreading a substantial amount without us ever realizing it.

3. Do not leave them unattended 

This goes without saying, but never leave the heaters on when you will be in a separate part of the home for an extended amount of time or if you are leaving.  

To avoid accidentally leaving them unattended, we would recommend purchasing a heater that has a timer shutoff. This way if you were to forget and leave the heater, there would be less likelihood of it overheating or sparking since it shuts itself off.

4. Keep away from children and animals

Think of a space heater as a mini oven or a hot hair tool. We would not leave items like this within reach of kids or pets because they could hurt themselves. 

Keeping it in a safe spot limits the possibility of children or animals getting burned, them moving flammable items close to the heater, or them tipping it over.  

5. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working

Should there be a fire caused, having an alarm to notify you of fire limits the likelihood for the fire to spread and cause extensive damage.

6. Plug heaters in directly to the wall socket

While handy, using surge protectors, extension cords, or outlet extenders with multiple sockets could lead to an increased risk of mechanical malfunctions or overheating. 

We hope everyone stays warm this winter, but mostly, we hope everyone stays safe! 

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