Column: From the Desk of Fire Chief Ron Cust


With the cost of heating continually on the rise, many consumers are investing in portable heaters to help lower their energy bills. While portable heaters can be both efficient and economical, they also introduce a number of important safety concerns that should not be overlooked.

To help you choose a portable heater wisely and use it safely during the upcoming winter season, keep in mind these tips for space heater safety:

Select the right size heater for the right size space – An electrical heater rated for a small space but being used in a much larger area, increases the risk of the unit overheating by having to work harder to heat the space. Look for a heater’s square footage rating.

Opt for heaters with tip-over and overheat protection – A heater equipped with a tip-over switch will automatically shut off if it is tipped over accidentally. Portable heaters with overheat protection switches function in nearly the same manner.

Shop for a heater with a safety certification

Use portable gas heaters only with proper ventilation

Give heaters their space – Position a portable space heater at least 3 ft. away from furniture, window treatments, bedding, clothing, rugs, and other combustibles.

Plug the heater directly into an outlet – Attaching an extension cord to the unit increases the chance of overheating, fires, and electrical shock injuries.

Inspect and clean the heater regularly – Never use a defective heater.

Shut off and unplug the heater when leaving it unattended or going to sleep.

Keep the heater away from water and out of damp locations.

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