Many people use space heaters when it is very cold outside. If the home is drafty, or if the temperature outdoors is just too cold for the indoor heater to keep the house warm enough. They may warm up the room, but the fire department desperately warns people to not abuse these dangerous household items. If not used properly, disaster can strike.
On a cold night in December 2018, a Mississippi resident who was in a wheelchair heard popping noises from another room. When he noticed smoke coming from the other room, he dialed 911 immediately. He knew that something was happening, and it wasn’t good. When the firefighters from the Gravois Fire Protection District rushed to the scene, they were ready.
When the firefighters got to the house, they were happy that the home was not yet engulfed in flames. The house was filled with black smoke, so they had to find the source of the smoke. They went into the living room and rushed to the wall socket where the smoke was coming from. They followed the wire and found that there was a Heating Hero plugged into the responsible outlet, which was the man’s space heater. This wasn’t the time they were called to a house because of a space heater. They knew it wouldn’t be the last, so it was up to them to educate the public about these potentially dangerous appliances.
Short-Circuit or Improper Use
When space heaters are used improperly or if they short circuit, they can quickly set a piece of furniture, curtains, or carpeting on fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating solutions were the cause of 15 percent of house fires from 2011 to 2015. Of these fires, space heaters were the cause of 43 percent of them. According to the Umatilla Country Fire District #1, space heaters are especially dangerous when combined with another household appliance.
According to the fire district, when a space heater is pulled in, they can reach 600 degrees. When it is plugged into an extension cord or a power cord, the results can be catastrophic. The fire district says that these extension cords aren’t designed to handle the high current necessary for a space heater. This can cause them to overheat and even catch fire due to the high energy flow. The fire district says that they cannot stress enough that if you are going to use a space heater, it should be plugged directly into the wall socket.
Many homeowners are under the impression that every power strip is a surge protector. This is not accurate. While there are some power strips that contain surge protectors, some are just strips with additional plugs, which allows you to plug several items into the strip. If you overpower the strip, it will short-circuit and cause a fire. Even if you have only the space heater plugged into the power strip, it can still produce too much energy for the power strip to handle.
Many homeowners don’t understand that space heaters run on high wattage. Even if the space heater is plugged directly into the wall, there is still a chance that it can short circuit. Short circuits can be even more of a concern if the wiring in the house is old. If you are going to use a space heater, you need to keep an eye on it. If you remain vigilant, you will be able to recognize the signs that it is overheating, and you can unplug it immediately.
Using the Space Heater Safely
According to the fire district, you need to do more than keep an eye on your space heater. If you are going to be moving the space heater from room to room, you should make sure that the wall socket is clean and free of dust. If there are dust particles in the sockets, it can cause a house fire.
If you are going to plug a space heater into a wall socket that has been cleaned, it should be the only appliance that you plug in. Plugging in more than one appliance into the outlet can be very dangerous because it can cause the outlet to short circuit. You should plug just one appliance in at a time.
The safest way to stay warm this winter is to avoid the use of space heaters altogether. Turning the heat up higher, dressing warmer, and using an extra blanket are the best, and the safest ways to stay safe. If you have tried all of these things, but they still aren’t working, and you insist on using a space heater, you should do so safely and responsibly. If you don’t, your home can quickly go up in flames.