12-Point Checklist Offered for Portable Heater Safety

The Los Angeles Fire Department and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers worked together on the checklist to help owners of the devices steer clear of fire and electric shock hazards during winter months.

As colder temperatures arrive in much of the United States, many Americans are using portable electric heaters. They can efficiently warm a room or supplement central heating, but portable electric heaters also can be a fire or electric shock hazard if not used properly, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) warn. They offered the following checklist to encourage safe use of portable electric heaters:

  • Read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels before using your heater.
  • Never leave an operating heater unattended. Always unplug the heater when it's not in use.
  • Unplug the heater by pulling the plug straight from the outlet. Inspect the power cord regularly, and never use a heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician to replace the outlet.
  • Do not use a power strip or extension cord to power your heater. Overheating of the power strip or extension cord could result in a fire.
  • Do not plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as your heater. This could result in overheating.
  • String the included power cord above any rug or carpeting. Anything you place on top of a cord, including furniture, may damage it.
  • Keep combustible materials such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes, curtains, paint, gas cans, and matches at least 3 feet from the front of the heater and away from the sides and rear. Do not block the heater's air intake or outlet.
  • Unless the heater is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, do not use in damp or wet areas. Parts in the heater may be damaged by moisture.
  • Place the heater on a level, flat surface. Use a heater on tabletops only when specified by the manufacturer.
  • Heaters should be kept away from pets and children and never used in a child's room without adult presence.
  • Seniors, disabled people, and those living alone or in student housing may be at increased risk due to careless or improper use of heaters. If you know someone in this risk category, please share this safety list and your concerns.

To receive AHAM's free "Stay Safe!" brochure, call 888-785-SAFE or visit www.heatersafety.org.

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