Winter is upon us now, and businesses and homes across the country are turning to electric heaters (space heaters) to bring a bit of warmth and comfort to residents, employees and customers. They’re a great piece of equipment: they are usually fairly portable, can warm up an area quickly and they don’t make much noise. However it is important, as with any electrical equipment, to adopt some basic safety procedures. Here is our guide to how to use an electric heater safely.
Electric heaters are the safest kind for indoor use
Most heaters that burn fuels to provide warmth are only safe for use outdoors – they won’t have the necessary seals and exhausts to keep dangerous fumes and toxins from building up in your home, and gases like carbon monoxide are undetectable until the ill-effects kick in. Electric heaters are the best option – they are designed for safe use and they don’t emit any fumes.
Location is key
Make sure you place your heater on a stable, flat surface and that there is plenty of room left all around it. Particularly powerful electric heaters, close to flammable/meltable materials can quickly become a serious hazard. Your heater should come with an instruction guide informing you of the safe distance you need to leave between the heater and anything else. Definitely don’t place anything on top of your heater – this area will get very hot, very quickly.
Electric heaters are not like your central heating or radiators. You can’t just switch them on and leave for a while. You need to be present to ensure that nothing goes wrong and to react quickly and appropriately if there is an issue.
Definitely don’t leave your heater on overnight while you sleep, and using timers to turn heater(s) on before you get on site is also a bad idea.
As we’ve mentioned, there is an increased risk of fire from using even an electric heater. Make sure that your room has a functioning smoke alarm – you’ll get a head start on dealing with a fire before it becomes a matter for the emergency services.
Some safety features to look out for when purchasing an electric heater are:
- Tip-over switch – if your heater tips over for any reason this switch will turn off the power to ensure that carpets or other flooring types aren’t scorched or ignited.
- Thermostats – not just a handy feature to keep you at a nice temperature, the thermostat will prevent the unit from overheating by turning off when your preferred temperature is reached.
- Thermal cut off – much like a thermostat, this will switch your unit off when it gets too hot: the difference is that it won’t start back up again to maintain the temperature.