Before you curl up next to any old heater, it’s important to think about space heater safety first. Not all space heaters are created equal, and the worst ones can be downright dangerous.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (Source: NFPA’s Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment):
- Heating equipment fires accounted for 16% of all reported home fires in 2009-2013 (second behind cooking)
- The leading factor contributing to ignition for home heating fire deaths (56%) was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.
Yikes! When it comes to choosing a space heater, it’s absolutely critical to put safety at the top of your list when choosing a model to bring home to your family. There are definitely safe, effective space heaters out there — you just have to know what to look for.
1. Protection Against Overheating
Most space heaters these days have a thermostat to regulate the temperature, but if it fails, you need a solid back-up plan. Look for space heaters with a safety fuse that will trip and shut everything down if the machine overheats. A programmable timer is another must-have feature to help keep your temperatures at a safe, comfortable level.
2. Tip-Over Safety Features
Many space heater fires occur when the heater accidentally falls over and the heating element ignites flammable carpet or curtains. To prevent this, the safest space heaters have a sensor to detect a tip-over, and the whole thing is programmed to shut itself off when that happens. A well-designed space heater will also have a sturdy base for stability and be proportioned so that it’s not too tall and slender — a risky profile when it comes to being bumped and pushed around.
3. Ceramic Heating
If your mental image of a space heater is of glowing red, electric coils housed in a metal cage, it’s time to go shopping for a new one. Today’s safest space heaters use a ceramic heating element and a fan for more even heating. Ceramic heaters usually come in plastic casings which do not absorb heat. Compared to other heaters, ceramic heaters are faster, yet safer than most heaters in the market.
4. Cool-Touch Housing
In addition to ceramic heating elements, look for space heaters designed to be cool to the touch. The casing should remain at a safe temperature, so as not to damage your fingers while you’re carrying the heater around. No matter the situation, always avoid direct contact with the face of the heater while in use.