There is a chill in the air, and blankets are out of the cupboards. Winter is here, meaning many are turning on heaters or lighting fires to stay warm. While nothing is worse than being bitterly cold, incorrect or dangerous use of heaters can result in house fires, electrical shock or carbon monoxide poisoning. Here are a few tips for keeping your home warm and safe this winter.
Your heater belongs on the floor
As tempting as it is to put a heater on a stool, bench or bed, these appliances belong on the floor. Heaters require stability and can easily be knocked off a chair. A small bump can cause it to tilt or fall over. If the heater touches a flammable object, this could quickly lead to a fire. Keep heaters on the floor, on the smoothest surface available. Some heaters have cooling vents on the underside, which need adequate airflow to prevent the heater from overheating.
Your heater belongs in a wall outlet
Electrical heaters use a fair amount of electricity, enough to heat up or damage electrical connections. Plug your heater directly into a wall outlet, not a surge protector, extension cord, multiplug, or timer plug. Going straight to the wall lowers the risk of overloading the circuit and avoids unnecessary resistance, which could heat up electrical wires and components and eventually damage them.
By using the wall outlet directly, you also avoid the risk of running too many devices on a single circuit. Remember to use only one heater on a circuit. That power draw could cause a circuit to trip or overload. Instead, look at a better heater that meets your needs.
It is worth noting that your heater should be as far away from the wall outlet as possible to avoid heating it. Don’t run cords under rugs or force them through a small space, as that could trap heat or impede the current.
Your heater should always be attended…
Fires can happen very quickly. All it takes is a sudden gust of wind to knock a heater over or move something flammable onto it. Sparks only take a few seconds to turn into flames and disaster. If you are leaving the room or going to sleep, turn the heater off.
… But not too closely
Make sure that your heaters are given a wide berth. A child could burn themselves on a heater or get an electrical shock by playing with the cord. Sparks could shoot out of a heater or fireplace, setting nearby flammable materials alight. If you have children, create a safe zone around one meter away from the heat source to avoid accidental injury. Keep the space around a heater clear of anything flammable too! A sturdy fire guard can prevent sparks and embers and stop children from getting too close.
If you use a gas heater, ensure spare gas cylinders are stored safely. Gas cylinders should be safely stored away from heat sources and protected from the elements. While you want to keep them outdoors, don’t store them where direct sunlight or frost can damage them.
If you use a fireplace, be careful with the ashes. Allow them to cool before storing them in a metal container outside your home, a fair distance away. Only moving cool ashes and storing them outside reduces the risk of embers or coals starting a fire.
If you use a gas heater, pay attention to your nose. If you smell gas, turn the appliance off. The gas smell could indicate a leak, which could ignite if the gas concentration gets high enough. Only use a gas heater in well-ventilated areas. Using a heater and letting cold air in sounds counterintuitive, but gas heaters can cause a dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.
Maintenance is the final step. Make sure your heaters are regularly maintained. Damaged wiring means that the heater needs to be replaced or repaired by a qualified electrician. You should service your gas heaters yearly to ensure all seals are in good condition.
We want to be warm in winter, but we also want to be safe. Visit your nearest ACDC Express and get Powered up for Winter.