As temperatures drop here in Maryland many people will be looking to break out their zone heaters (AKA space heaters), but before you do, it is important to know the dos and don’ts of space heaters and the possible dangers.
The Dos and Don’ts
Do – Place your space heater on a dedicated line. If you don’t have a dedicated outlet for your space heater already, then be sure to call an electrician.
- A dedicated line is a line that runs from your main electrical panel to its own circuit breaker to its own dedicated outlet/receptacle. This line/circuit is designated for only one appliance. Space heaters are considered an “appliance” that needs to be on its own circuit breaker and line with its own outlet/receptacle because it draws a lot of electricity. If the space heater shares a circuit with multiple things in use, it can overheat the wires, cause an electrical fire, damage the space heater, and burn your outlets. The outlet you see in the image to the right was caused by plugging a space heater into an ordinary outlet.
Do – Keep each zone heater at least 3 feet (91.44 cm) away from flammable materials such as curtains, blankets, carpet or other furniture.
Do – Buy a space heater that has a guard around the heating element. This will help keep kids and pets safe from burns.
Don’t –Leave a space heater turned on when you leave the house or go to sleep. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can form if you’re using a fuel-fired heater, and a fire can start if you’re using an electric model.
Don’t – Leave pets and young children alone in a room with a space heater.
Do – Avoid using space heaters in rooms where spills and moisture build-ups are likely, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Are Zone Heaters Even Safe For My Home?
The biggest threat associated with space heaters is fire. In fact, each year space heaters are responsible for about 55,000 fires, 450 deaths, and more than 1,500 injuries. However, there are a number of other ways that space heaters can lead to accidents and injuries:
- They pose a shock hazard.
- Space heaters use a lot of electricity. They can easily overload circuits, causing a power failure or fire.
- Some parts of the heater can become really hot. Children and pets are especially vulnerable to getting burned, but adults can also accidentally brush up against the hot surface. It’s also possible for clothes to catch on fire.
- Some space heaters, especially taller ones, can tip over, posing a fire hazard.
However, if you follow the dos and don’ts of zone heaters then you can integrate these additional sources of heat for your home while keeping you and your family safe.
For more information
National Fire Protection Association’s Safety Information: Heating