space heater safetyThe modern home is a marvel of time-saving, labor-saving, and comfort-producing devices and appliances.

These include such products as space heaters, air cooler, washers, dryers, refrigerators, gas and electric furnaces, and many others.

To a great extent, the hazards that large or small appliances may introduce into your home are associated with fire.

But householders should also take precautions against the dangers of electrocution, falls caused by poorly placed electrical cords and other accident-producers.

Most emergencies arising from appliance use or misuse can’t be avoided by acting in advance to prevent possible hazards.

Household items that are most likely to be hazardous are heating-cooling equipment, cooking equipment, heat tapes and humidifiers, and small electrical appliances.

In the first category are furnaces, gas stove, air conditioners, space heaters, and similar equipment.

The primary safety rule with heating equipment is to make sure it is operating properly and efficiently. For furnaces of any kind, an annual check-up usually in the summer or fall is advisable.

Many homeowners have maintenance policies that include such checkups property tax protest Houston.

All space heaters come with instructions for installations and operation. These instructions should be followed closely.

Space heaters should be located so that they have plenty of room around them. They should be placed at a safe distance from all papers, clothing, draperies, furniture, and if possible children. Manufacturers’ labels usually indicate what the proper clearance is for a particular model.

As with furnaces, space heaters should be kept in good working condition. Missing controls should be replaced; so should missing or defective guards or screens.

Electric space heaters should have tip-over shutoff switches that turn off the current if the unit is knocked over. These heaters should also have guards around their coils.

The guard can be a wire grille or other protective “fence” that can keep fingers or fabrics away from the heating element.

If an extension cord is used with the space heater, the cord should have a power rating at least as high as the heater’s rating. The cord should be in safe place and out of the reach of children and pets as they sometimes try to chew the cords.

An important rule: Do not use a portable electric heater in a bathroom, near a sink, or close to water. This presents the risk of electrocution.

Gas space heaters may be vented or unvented. Both kinds need special care and attention.

If the gas space heater is vented, it should be vented correctly.

That is, the vent pipe should be properly sized and free of cracks, leaks, and blockages, with tight joints and crack-free heat exchanger (to prevent leakage of carbon monoxide). If in doubt about the venting, call a servicer or your gas supplier.

When using an unvented gas space heater, you should always have a door or window slightly open in the room where the heater is located.

With either kind of gas heater, you should light the match first before you turn on the gas for the pilot light. This prevents flare-ups due to accumulated gas.

Woodburning, kerosene, or oil space heaters not only need to be installed properly; it would also be wise to have them inspected by a local fire safety official. Then you should use only the fuel, and in some cases the grade of fuel, for which the heater was designed.

The chimney of the heater or stove should be cleaned regularly, once every couple of months at least. In the case of a woodburning heater, it is best to use only paper or wood for kindling.

Never use gasoline or another flammable or combustible fluid to start a woodburning stoves!