Space Heaters Should be Used With Caution

Space heaters may seem like an excellent way to provide supplemental heat on chilly days. However, research points out that these units tend to be dangerous.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, around one-third of fires in the home can be attributed to space heaters. They also account for three-quarters of fire-related deaths in U.S. homes.

One of the biggest risk factors with space heaters is their tendency to get hot on the surface. When a hot space heater comes in contact with surrounding combustible materials, such as draperies or bed linens, the risk for a serious fire will only increase.

Space heaters should come with instructions for proper use and placement, including several feet from walls and other combustibles. However, in crowded living situations or homes with small children and pets, it is easy for space heaters to be inadvertently moved or knocked over.

If a space heater is needed in a home, select a type that will be the safest option.

* Consider an electric model that doesn't require the replacement of fuel, such as kerosene.

* Choose a radiator type that doesn't feature any external heating coils.

* Look for models with a tip-over safety shut off. There are others that will automatically shut off if the unit senses too much heat from a close-by object.

* Select sturdy models that aren't prone to tip over, meaning look for short, stout heaters, rather than tall, skinny ones.

* The best type of space heaters have the heating element deep inside of the machine and only emit hot air.

* For those with an old-fashioned heater that features heating coils directly behind a mesh screen, discard of this unsafe appliance promptly.

* A space heater should be the only major appliance on one circuit to avoid an electrical overload and fire.

* Do not use extension cords with a space heater, as the cord tends to overheat quickly.

* Turn off the space heater when a room is unattended. These heaters must be used under supervision. Leaving them unmonitored in a room is a recipe for trouble.

* Use space heaters as a last resort. Heavy blankets and clothing can chase away the chill.