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How to be safe with space heaters

Space heaters are great for warming up just one room at a time and saving on your utility costs, especially in our mild Southern California winters. Before you pull your heater out of storage, however, there are some things you should know about safely operating these devices and avoiding house fires.

Space heaters account for a third of all home fires, as well as four out of every five deaths related to home heating fires. This does not mean you should throw your space heater away. Your space heater may be one of your favorite appliances this winter when you need to warm up your bathroom or thaw out your chilly feet. Understanding how to avoid common heating risks and check for manufacturer defects can help you safely heat your home.

It can help to observe the following points when setting up and using your space heater this winter:

  • Avoid running the power cord underneath a rug, where it could overheat. Also, do not set the heater in a position where you might trip over the cord or step on it.
  • Place your heater at least three feet away from objects that might catch fire, such as furniture, bedding and curtains.
  • Never use an extension cord with a space heater, as they are highly likely to overheat.
  • Turn your heater off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Do not use a space heater in a child’s room or allow children to be in a room unsupervised when your space heater is on.

Many space heater fires are caused by not using them in a safe or correct manner, but other mishaps can occur due to a product malfunction. Before you purchase a new space heater or take your heater out of storage, check Consumer Affairs’ website for information on heater recalls. There is often the risk of fire or electrocution because of a faulty heater overheating, parts detaching or other manufacturing safety issues.

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