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Electric Space Heater Safety

An electric space heater is a great way to warm up a cold area. There’s an increased use of space heaters in the winter, especially under desks in administrative areas. Regardless of where you use a space heater, it’s important to be aware of some safety tips before purchasing and using one.

  • Best practice in the workplace is to implement a policy that requires supervisory approval before purchasing a heater, and facility maintenance approval of type, placement, and use.
  • Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo on the device, which lets you know that the device has been tested to meet industry standards.
  • Before using any space heater, carefully read the manufacturer instructions and warning labels.
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Heaters should NEVER be plugged into power strips!
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit tips over, and overheat protection so it shuts off if the unit becomes too hot.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn, or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including chemicals, papers, clothing, and rugs.
  • Unless the heater is designed for use in damp areas, don’t use a heater in the bathroom or other damp/wet areas. Do not touch the heater if you are wet because this increases the risk of shock.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you're leaving a room or going to sleep. Don't let pets or children play too close to a space heater.

 

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