Radius Security's Blog providing security advice, safety tips, and various news articles to help you better secure your home or business.

22
Nov
2011

The Hidden Hazards of Space Heaters

November 22nd, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    1   

The weather outside is frightful… If you don’t have a delightful fire handy, a space heater offers a practical, if less romantic, alternative for warming your toes. Plug it in and voilà, toasty coziness on demand.

The key, though, is “space.” Keep any space heater at least three feet (one metre) away from curtains, blankets, rugs, newspapers, gasoline, propane – any flammable materials. Similarly, don’t drape electrical cords on or near the heater. Element guards will keep curious little (and careless big) fingers from touching hot elements.

A “UL” or “CSA” (Underwriters Laboratories or Canadian Standards Association) certification shows a unit complies with recognized safety standards. Use and install the heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Next, think “dry.” After a snowball fight or a trek in the rain, you may be tempted to hang your wet mittens or gear on an electric heater. Don’t. High humidity may create a shock hazard. That’s also why portable heaters should not be used outdoors or in the bathroom unless specifically designated as safe for those areas.

Check your electric heater regularly.Watch for frayed cords. Does the plug have loose or exposed parts? Is it hot? An overheated plug indicates your outlet needs to be serviced. Dust or vacuum the heater regularly because lint and dust increase the risk of fire and explosions. But anyone who uses solvent or flammable liquids with the heater turned on deserves a Darwin Award.

Portable heaters are designed to supplement your central heating system, not replace it. As such, don’t leave your heater unattended. Turn it down, or off, when you go to sleep. A smoke detector nearby would warn you if anything goes wrong at night. Some models turn off automatically if the unit tips over. Don’t mount the unit on furniture, where it may fall over and get damaged.

By this point, you may be rethinking the idea of electrical heaters altogether. Liquid- or gas-fueled space heaters carry their own risks, however. Use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could overheat the unit and cause a serious fire. Turn off the heater and allow it to cool completely before refueling. Wipe up any spills. Avoid using kerosene space heaters indoors because they emit dangerous carbon monoxide.

Curling up by a wood fire sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Of course, there are practical guidelines for fireplaces and woodstoves too….

Sources: Underwriters Laboratories and The Canadian Standards Association

Police Warnings:

On November 16, on Victoria Drive, a dark-skinned male, aged 25 to 30, sliced a woman’s pursestrap and took off on East 43 Avenue: Vancouver Police Department press release. This incident came days after the police issued another warning about a white male, aged 18 to 25, who threatened victims and seized their purses in the same general area of East Vancouver.

For tips to prevent purse snatchings, read our blog post on the topic.

Surrey RCMP,meanwhile, are warning the public about a high-risk sexual offender now residing in Surrey. See our blog post on strategies for protecting yourself against sexual attacks.


Author: Susanna Chu


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