Are Space Heaters Safe to Leave On All Night? How do space heaters cause fires?
Prolonged and chilly winters call for heaters to be turned on. Contrary to central heaters that heat up the entire house or a building, space heaters are only used to warm up a small area or a single room. Space heaters work with either electricity or burnable fuel such as natural gas, propane, oil, or wood to make you all cozy and comfortable.
However, just as space heaters are loved in areas where the winters are cold and long, they can also cause deadly problems for users. If not used with care, they can end up burning down the whole house.
The main threats of space heaters are burns, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning. USA faces around 108,400 house and apartment fires and about 945 deaths. More than 80% of home heating fire deaths are caused due to space heaters each year. Moreover, it results in 3,825 injuries per year, leading to 6,000 visits to hospitals and $1.7 billion in property loss every year.
According to NFPA’s latest report, space heaters are the second major cause of home fires and the third major cause of home fire deaths in the USA. 53 percent of all home heating fires happened due to space heaters and other heating equipment being placed too close to flammable furniture, clothing, mattresses or beddings.
Do Not Leave Your Space Heaters On for Too Long
It is not advisable to leave your heaters on for a long time. They can not only be dangerous and cause a fire but also be bad for your health.
The air generated by heaters is dry in nature. Breathing in dry air carries health hazards. It can damage your respiratory system and cause ailments like bronchitis, asthma, nosebleeds and sinusitis. Dehydration is also caused as the body fluids are exhausted, skin moisture is compromised, and the eyes start itching.
Leaving a space heater on for hours and hours in a house with bad insulation will not be of any use. You can keep the heater turned on forever, but it will not make your house cozy. This is because the heat is going to escape no matter what. Hence, this issue needs to be addressed rather than leaving your heater turned on all day long.
Dangerous While Sleeping
Many people go to sleep with their heaters on. This is the worst thing they can do. Leaving a heater on unattended can put your and your loved ones’ lives at risk. You won’t know if a fire breaks out during the night due to the heater and will be in danger. Furthermore, your sense of smell cannot be relied on when you are asleep, which is why gas heaters can be especially dangerous. If the gas leaks at some point in the night, you will not know and can be endangered by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Features to Look For While Buying a Space Heater
Your, your family’s and your home’s security should be your priority when buying a space heater. There are many heaters out there in the market, but you should always consider one that has the following attributes:
Timer: This feature turns off the heater after a certain time. It is useful when you are occupied with other things or sleepy and forgot about the heater.
Automatic Thermostat: Another amazing feature that space heaters come with is an automatic thermostat. This enables them to be turned on only when the temperature goes below a certain limit, helping you save energy and using heaters minimally.
Automatic Shut-Off: A similar feature as the auto thermostat is auto shut-off. This feature turns off the heater when the room temperature rises above a certain limit, reducing the danger of fire.
Tip-Over Security: This turns off the heater when it is tilted more than a certain angle. This will help you reduce the threat of fire and shock if there are children and pets at home.
Remote-Controlled : This feature is popular among people who are addicted to heaters and do not want to end up being in trouble due to it. If the heater is remote-controlled, you can easily manage it from a certain distance. Hence, you can turn your heater on or off while lying in bed without leaving the warmth and comfort.
Safety Certifications: It is ideal that you buy an appliance that has a stamp of certification from Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek, or Canadian Standards Association. This means the appliance has passed the safety standard test, so you do not need to worry about the heater being a risk. The UL 1278 and UL 1042 are standards used by Underwriters Laboratories for portable and fixed baseboard electric heaters respectively.
Following are some key points that you should keep in mind while using this sensitive yet dangerous appliance:
- Flammable materials such as any sort of gasoline, oil or cloth like curtains, furniture, and beddings must not be kept within 3 feet of the heater.
- Children, elderly and disabled people and pets must not be left unattended with a heater on.
- The heater should be placed on a flat and hard surface that eliminates the risk of it tilting or falling.
- Do not use the appliance to dry out your clothes. It is not made for this purpose and can be very dangerous.
- Smoke and fire alarms should be installed to avoid any unforeseen incident.
- To avoid the risk of short-circuiting, the heater should be plugged directly into the wall outlet or the extension cord used must have a heavy-duty 14-gauge wire. Plugs and cords with witch the heater is connected should be regularly checked for any possible damages.
Yes, space heaters can be dangerous, but that’s only if you use them carelessly. Make sure you don’t leave it on for too long and get a heater with the appropriate safety features, and you will be fine!