Heaters Too Hot to Handle

December 19, 2014 | By R. Brendan Dummigan of Pickett Dummigan LLP

heaters is causing the fireThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that over 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. Some of these fires could have been prevented had the heaters been used correctly.

As the temperature gets colder, more and more people are starting to use space heaters to keep warm. To help prevent future fires, here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Give it space – Putting combustible items next to a heater is the most common cause of space heater fires. Try to provide at least three feet of space on each side of the heater.

2. Look for quality – Buy space heaters with the latest safety features and the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label of approval. Ideally, space heaters should have cool-to-touch surfaces and automatic shutoff features. Stick with reputable brands that come with warranties.

3. Put it out when going out – Turn off space heaters if there will be no adults in the room. It is also a good idea to turn space heaters off when you’re going to bed.

4. Test the smoke alarm – Any room where a space heater is being run should be outfitted with a smoke alarm. If you’re operating a gas heater, you should also consider a carbon monoxide alarm just in case toxic fumes escape.

Although all space heaters can be dangerous when used incorrectly, there is a difference between improperly using a heater and a defective heater. Some heaters are so unreasonably dangerous or badly made that there is no way to safely use them. Defective heaters can overheat and cause serious burns and fires. In some dramatic circumstances, they can even explode.

For a list of some heaters that have been recalled due to fire hazards, click HERE.

If you own one of these recalled heaters, you should stop using them immediately and find a safer heating source. It’s not worth the risk of injury or fire to keep defective models plugged in.

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