Nothing can put chills down your spine quite like winter weather creeping its way through every crack of your home. In order to save money and stay warm, many chose to turn down the heat and plug in space heaters or electric blankets. While these products may be a simple solution from the cold, the Safe Electricity program warns that they can also cause fires if caution is not used.
Safe Electricity offers the following tips for safely using space heaters and electric blankets:
Read and follow all space heater and electric blanket instructions.
Check space heaters and electric blankets before use. Cords should not be frayed, brittle, or cracked. The blanket should not have any charred or dark areas.
One of the biggest causes of fires is one of the most easily avoidable. Many fires start when flammable products are placed too close to heating devices, such as space heaters. Space heaters should be kept at least 3 feet from blankets, clothing, paper, and other flammables.
Place space heaters out of high-traffic areas and on a level, hard, non-flammable floor surface—NOT on carpets, furniture, or countertops.
Look for a space heater that has guards from heating elements and automatically shuts off if it is tipped over or overheating.
Do not attempt to warm your entire home using space heaters. Space heaters are useful in small areas, such as a study or living room. However, if you need to keep large areas warm, your home heating system will do the job more efficiently.
Plug space heaters directly to the outlet, and never use an extension cord.
Only use electric blankets with an automatic shut off designed to prevent the blanket from overheating.
Pets should never be allowed to sleep on top of electric blankets.
Electric blanket wires should never be bent or tucked under a mattress.
Replace old or damaged electric blankets.
Choose a space heater or electric blanket with a safety certification. You should look for the UL, ETL, or CSA mark on the device. These verify that the product has been tested and is safe to use.