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Space heaters: Ensure you use them safely

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As you consider firing up a space heater to supplement your home heating and, in turn, lower the thermostat to save on energy bills, don’t forget to follow the tips below.

Keep in mind — according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly three in four people killed in home heating fires in 2006 died in fires that involved (stationary or portable) space heaters.

To help prevent fires and from the use of space heaters, adhere to the following tips.

  • Install and use appliances according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Consider using space heaters with automatic shut-off capabilities.
  • Never use unvented gas or kerosene heaters in closed spaces, especially sleeping areas.
  • Don't use gas appliances such as an oven, range or clothes dryer to heat the home.
  • Leave a window cracked about an inch for ventilation and fresh air. Ventilation is important to keep fuel-burning space heaters from consuming too much oxygen in the house.
  • Do not leave a space heater on when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep and keep small children away from the unit at all times.
  • Electric space heaters should be checked for signs of fraying or splitting wires or overheating. Likewise, electric space heaters frequently cause fires by overloading electrical outlets.
  • Keep space heaters away from combustible materials/products, such as blankets.
  • When selecting a space heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters laboratory and has the UL symbol on it. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.
  • Make sure you put your heater only on a hard, level and non-flammable surface. Never on carpets or a rug that could catch fire.
  • Review more tips from the NFPA.
If you’re using a generator or alternate home-heating sources, such as kerosene or propane, check out tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Vectren does not endorse any particular product or wholesaler.

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