Space Heaters Cause Majority of Home Heating Fires in Litchfield County
Like many Connecticut homeowners, we primarily heat our house with a wood stove in the winter.
It’s an economical way to heat the home and for the most part, does the job. However, there’s a room between the barn and the rest of our house that is cold no matter what we do. We've used window and door insulation and used fans to direct the heat from the stove towards it with little improvement. Our solution is to use an electric space heater in the room. It’s a new infrared heater and we have no reason to suspect that it will malfunction however I work in the restoration industry and am regularly reminded of the fire risks associated with using a space heater in the home.
Statistics show that between the years 2011 and 2015, space heaters accounted for 43% of U.S. home heating fires and 85% of home heating fire deaths. Space heaters are the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Precautions must be taken when using a space heater in your home.
We recommend that you follow these safety precautions and make sure that others in your home are also vigilant about them.
- Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory and read the instructions thoroughly.
- When you pull the electric heater out of storage at the beginning of the season, check it over for any frayed, worn, chewed or damaged cords as well as any other damage that may have occurred. Space heaters can be purchased for under $50 - there is no reason to take a risk and use an old worn out heater.
- Be sure to place your space heater in a safe location. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including upholstered furniture, bedding, drapes and rugs. This does mean that you may need to rearrange a room to safely use a space heater. I personally roll the rug in front of my space heater up whenever it is turned on to avoid a fire risk.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. This is the number one factor that causes deaths do to a space heater. If left on at night or when you leave the home, you will not be alerted to the fire before it has become widespread. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Be extra vigilant when using a space heater in the bedroom. It can be difficult to avoid bedding and laundry from coming too close to the heater. Many bedrooms have wall to wall carpeting, which can also be a fire hazard. From personal experience, I can’t stress too much the importance of making sure your teenager doesn’t leave dirty laundry on top of an electric heater and allow his blankets to drape over it while it is turned on at the base of his bed all night.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
If your space heater does start a fire in your home, do not attempt to extinguish it using water. We recommend that you turn off the power at the breaker box, use a Class C fire extinguisher to put out the fire and call 9-1-1 if necessary.
Even small home fires that may not leave a lot of structural damage can cause significant smoke and soot damage and require professional restoration. SERVPRO of Newtown and Southern Litchfield County has the training and tools to clean the fire damage in your home in your Brookfield area home.