A house fire in central Virginia had a contributing cause of a space heater. There were other things mentioned in this living room fire that led to the occupants being transported due to burns. There are many types of space heaters, some powered by electricity, some fueled by propane or natural gas, others fueled by kerosene. All come with their inherent dangers, therefore it is important to understand proper operation and required maintenance of your respective heater.
Any time a space heater will be used, it must be kept at least three feet from all combustibles. A combustible is anything that will burn given the right amount of heat. Space heaters should not be left on when there is no one in the room, especially when there is no one home.
A malfunctioning space heater must be repaired or replaced. The fact that another heat source has been introduced into your home is one thing. The last thing that you want to see is a fire caused by a frayed cord or a malfunctioning switch.
Another thing to be mindful of are the issues associated with fuel-burning heaters. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas. It is detected by a CO monitor or after a family has been overcome and has been seriously injured or killed by the exposure. As I have told you before, our body has a 200 times greater affinity for CO than oxygen. CO exposure occurs in two ways: an acute dose or a cumulative dose, over a long period of time. Fuel burning stoves require good ventilation. If your CO detector activates, cut the appliance off, open the windows, turn on ceiling fans, evacuate your home, and call 9-1-1.
They make combination detectors that detect smoke and CO. In fact, CO detectors can be tied to a smoke alarm system that is wired in series. The important thing is to monitor for CO and smoke. I do not need to tell you how important it is to have a proper number of properly operating smoke alarms in your home. There are plenty of heat sources in your home without additional ones that mandate the presence of smoke alarms. If you add a heat source, then you need to make sure that you add the appropriate number of detectors.
Now is the time to check your heating appliances, whether primary or secondary appliances. My primary heating system went out last year at Thanksgiving. It was a surprise expense that came before Christmas. I got my money’s worth out of the unit, but it was still a pretty inopportune time to go out. In most cases, heating appliances malfunction under the greatest time of demand and when needed most. Do yourself a favor and get it checked out.
One other thing to watch out for with portable space heaters is when you have small children. Children can be burned badly by touching a hot space heater. If you cannot put some type of guard around a space heater, then you need to guard your children closely. Nine times out of ten, a child will be hurt due to a lack of parental or guardian supervision. It only takes a moment for a tragic event to occur. Do everything possible to prevent an avoidable accident from occurring in your home.