By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Space heater precautions
Safety should be on everyone’s mind
icy main Jan. 2020
Ice on Main Street Great Bend, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

With colder weather upon us, portable electric space heaters are a popular item in many homes. Safety should be the number one concern when setting them up in the home, says Great Bend Fire Department’s Fire Inspector Mark Orth.

“We have had some fires in Great Bend because of space heaters,” Orth said. “Safety precautions were not taken that most likely led to these fires. Always make sure to read the instructions that come with the heater. There is also a lot of information online that can help with setting the heaters in safe places throughout the home. You always want to get one that has been tested and has a lab testing mark on the box.” 

Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States, according to More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fires result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.

Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for a home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in.

Safety tips

Here are some tips for keeping your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside:

• Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.

• Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.

• Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.

• Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, and don’t let pets or children play too close to a space heater.

• Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.

• Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.

• Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.

• Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.

• Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.

• Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.

• Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.