According to 2009-2013 averages provided by the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters accounted for two of every five home heating fires, and four of five of home heating fire deaths in the United States.
Space heater safety begins at the time of purchase, Kantor noted. Select a unit that is certified by the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) or another nationally-recognized testing organization. Look for heaters with a guard around the heating element.
Before making a purchase, consider the size of the area to be heated. A heater that is too small or too large for an area can waste energy without providing the proper level of comfort.
Kantor offered these additional safety tips:
- Do not use fuel-fired space heaters indoors. Without proper ventilation they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install an audible carbon monoxide alarm on every floor of your residence, especially near sleeping areas.
- Keep children and pets away from space heaters – the surface can become very hot during use.
- Never leave a space heater running when you are asleep or when leaving the area.
- Locate the heater at least three feet away from mattresses, bedding, furniture and drapes, or where clothing or towels could fall on it and start a fire.
- Do not place heaters in areas where they may become wet, such as a bathroom. Corrosion or damage to heater parts can cause a fire or electric shock.
- Avoid using extension cords when plugging in space heaters. Don't hide cords under rugs or carpet.
- Never store flammable liquids near a space heater as they can be ignited by an electrical spark.
- Always maintain your space heater in safe working condition. Do not attempt to operate a damaged unit.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy