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It's Getting Hot in Here: Space Heater Safety Tips

December is in full swing, and it’s finally bringing us some cooler weather! We can’t be sure these chilly days are here to stay (it is Texas, after all), but when these cold snaps hit, we want to stay cozy. One of the most efficient ways to generate a little warmth is with a space heater. Before you fire yours up, take a look at these important safety tips from your Austin HVAC specialists.

Choose Wisely

When selecting a space heater, there are a few things to keep in mind. You’ll want one that has been safety certified (look for a logo to verify this) and is the right size for your space. If you’ve got pets or small children running amok, choose a heater with tip-over protection, an extra safety feature that will automatically shut the heater off if it’s knocked over. You might also be interested in overheat protection, which shuts down the unit if internal components start to overheat. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines carefully. If your heater uses fuel, use only the type specified by the manufacturer. Note that fuel-burning heaters should only be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas. If your heater is electric, inspect the cord carefully before each use to make sure it is not damaged or frayed.

Setup Safely

Where you put your heater matters. HVAC professionals recommend maintaining a 3 foot distance from any combustible materials, including, but not limited to: bedding, curtains, furniture, papers, etc. Give your heater plenty of breathing room — don’t stack anything around it or lay anything on top of it, and don’t put it in a doorway or a high traffic area. Place your heater on a stable surface, never on a table or anywhere it can be easily knocked over. Your heater should be plugged directly (and firmly) into a wall outlet. Using an extension cord increases the chance of overheating and fire. While we know there’s nothing worse than stepping out of a nice warm shower only to be confronted with a cold bathroom, space heaters should never be used around water, due to the risk of electric shock. Always turn your heater off if you leave the house or go to bed. Even if you’re just moving to a different room for an extended period of time, it’s best to shut it off and restart it when you return.

Maintain It Properly

To keep your heater safe and in good working order, give it an occasional cleaning. This will also limit the amount of dust or allergens it releases into your home. It’s likely that, once our brief Austin winter is over, your space heater will be put away for a good part of the year. When the next cold front hits, give it a thorough inspection to make sure it hasn’t been damaged during its long summer nap. Also, make sure your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly — if there is an issue with the heater, you want to be alerted as soon as possible.

Space heaters are a great way to keep your home or office warm and cozy on a wintery day. By following the above tips from your Austin HVAC specialists, you can rest assured that you’re heating up your space safely!

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