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Space Heaters and Burn Injuries

As the winter season is progressing with the temperature falling and as the heating cost is rising, more people are using portable space heaters to help lower the bills paied for energy. There are many models of space heaters including those that are electric, those that burn kerosine, propane and other fuels. Many homeowners chose the electric model as they don’t produce an open flame and don’t produce noxious fumes therefore they appear safer. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many homeoners exhibit a false sense of security related to electric space heaters and appliances which can, infact, be very dangerous when used improperly. The CPSC warns that although space heaters don’t produce an open flame, they do produce enough heat to ignite flammable objects near by such as clothing (see flammable clothing), furniture rugs, papers, as well as the risk of electric shock and electrocutions.

According to the U.S. Consumer safety Commission, more than 25,000 residental fires, 300 deaths, and 6,000 burn injuries every year are associated with the improper use of portable space heaters. If you are you are using an electric space heater, consider these safety tips:

  • Shop for heaters with safety certification. Portable space heaters that are listed by Nationaly Recognized testing Laboratories (NRTLs) have been certified after being tested and proven to meet specific safety standards.
  • When purchesing a heater, purchase one with a guard around the heating elements.
  • Make sure to read and follow the instructions for operating and maintaning a space heater before using it.
  • Plug the heater directly into an outlet. If you have to use an extension cord, make sure that this cord is a heavy duty cord make with No. 14 gauge or larger. Using an inappropriate cord increase the chance of over heating, fires, burns and electrical shock and burn injuries. Never run the heater’s cord or the extension cord under the carpet or rug
  • Shut off and unplug the heater when leaving it un attended. Turn off the space heater and unplug it when you leave a room or going to bed.
  • Do regular inspection and cleaning of the space heater (annually) to make sure that they are safe to operate as contaminants and dust can become fuel for fire. Never operate a defective heater.
  • Keep portable electric heaters away from water to aviod electric shock and electrocutions, and never touch an electric heater with a wet hand.
  • Never use an electric heater to dry clothes by placing placing clothing over it.
  • Always place the space heater on an even surface and never place it near areas where children may play or where people may bump into or trip over.
  • keep children, pets, any flammable or anything that may ignite at least three feet away from all heating equipment.
  • Try purchesing space heaters that will automatically shut off when knocked over or when they are too hot.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home. Test these detectors at least once a month to make sure they are in a good working condition.
  • Make sure when using fireplaces that they are properly vented to the outside as inproper ventelation may lead to smoke accumulation that they lead to smoke inhalation injury.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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