So, you are at a cabin with friends, snuggled under a blanket, but the air is as cool as it is outside. It might be tough for cold-sensitive people to enjoy each other’s company this way. This is just one of the many reasons, why bringing a portable electric heater might come in handy. But what if the electric outlet at the cabin is really old and doesn’t look safe to use? Should you still try to use it and hope for the best? What if you burn down the entire cabin?
Horror stories aside, if you own an electric space heater, there are several safety precautions that you should have in mind in case anything like the above happens (however unlikely).
Safety Precautions You Should Know About
Now that you are properly scared (or not), let’s check simple and easy-to-remember safety precautions for electric space heaters.
First Things First: Choose Wisely
When you’re shopping for an electric heater, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of options. But fear not, for we shall guide you on your quest for the perfect heater. Just follow these simple rules:
- Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification. This means your heater has been tested for safety and is less likely to betray you.
- Always opt for a heater with a tip-over switch. This nifty feature shuts the heater off if it’s knocked over, saving you from potential fire hazards.
- Choose a heater with overheat protection. This will ensure your heater takes a break when it gets too hot to handle.
Many budget-friendly compact heaters offer all these features, so you should be good to go even with cheaper options.
Location, Location, Location
I know, this is not real estate, but there are several benefits to finding a perfect place for your heater. One is to evenly distribute heat for the maximum possible area, and the others are well, for safety purposes.
- Keep it at least 3 feet away from combustible materials. This includes your favorite blanket, that pile of laundry you’ve been ignoring, and your cat (we know they love the warmth, but they’ll have to find it elsewhere).
- Place your heater on a flat, level surface. Because, you know, gravity.
- Avoid placing your heater near water sources. It’s a great way to get electrocuted, which is not as exciting as it sounds.
Plug It In (But Not Too Much)
No, I did not tell you to grab that extension power cord – I would like not to burn this place down, thank you very much.
- Plug your heater directly into the wall socket. Extension cords and power strips are a big no-no. They can overheat and turn your cozy night into an episode of “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”
- Make sure the power socket isn’t overloaded. Your heater needs space to breathe, just like you.
The Dos and Don’ts of Electric Heater Etiquette
Did you know even electric heaters should follow a certain etiquette? Crazy, I know. Now that your heater is in the perfect spot and plugged in, it’s time to review some basic electric heater etiquette.
- Keep an eye on your heater. You wouldn’t leave a toddler unattended, would you? Treat your heater the same way. Turn it off when you leave the room, and never leave it on while you’re sleeping.
- Clean your heater regularly. Dust and debris are not only unsightly but can also cause your heater to overheat. A clean heater is a happy heater.
- Attempt DIY repairs. Unless you’re an electrician, don’t try to fix a malfunctioning heater yourself. It’s a surefire way to win a Darwin Award.
- Use your heater to dry clothes. We know it’s tempting, but it’s also a great way to start a fire. Stick to the dryer for that job.
In Case of Emergency: Don’t Panic!
Now jokes aside, if, for some reason, smoke starts coming from your heater, or even flames, do not panic – you can make things worse. Instead, follow this procedure:
- Shut off the power by unplugging your heater or turning off the breaker.
- If the fire is small and manageable, use a fire extinguisher to put it out. Remember the acronym PASS: Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the trigger, and Sweep side to side.
- If the fire is out of control or spreading, get out of the house immediately and call 911. There’s no point in trying to save your favorite blanket if you’re going to risk your life in the process.
- Once the fire is out and the situation is under control, call a professional to inspect your heater and determine the cause of the fire. Remember, knowledge is power (pun intended).
Final Thoughts: Staying Warm and Safe
I hope these safety tips did not scare you enough to reconsider bringing a space heater with you. Don’t get me wrong, these are good devices, but considering they draw on considerable energy and are a fire hazard, one should know about safety precautions. I mean, it’s better to be safe than sorry, no?
With that being said, it’s time for me to snuggle under the blanket with a nice cup of hot cocoa. Cheers!