One Simple Mistake You Might Be Making That Could Lead to a House Fire - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Nov 19, 2018

One Simple Mistake You Might Be Making That Could Lead to a House Fire

The temperatures are quickly dropping and you might be using a small, temporary space heater before making the leap  to crank up the thermostat. Although small and rather convenient, space heaters might provide a bigger risk than reward.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the combination of using a space heater with a power strip is estimated to have resulted in about 3,300 house fires each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270. Knowing this, it’s important to keep the capability of both the heater and the outlets you are using in mind, and follow safety precautions whenever you are using a space heater.

Read on to learn more about space heaters and how to use them safely in your home.

Why You Shouldn’t Plug Space Heaters Into Power Strips

Power strips are not designed to handle the high current flow of a space heater. By plugging a space heater into a power strip or surge protector, you force the strip to over-exert energy. This can result in overheating, sparking and - worst case scenario - a fire.

How to Safely Use Space Heaters

Although they should be used as a last resort and not as your main source of heat, it’s important to follow these 5 steps when using a space heater in your home:

1. Know the capability of the outlet you plan to use. The outlet should not be loose or temperamental.

2. Ensure that the second outlet is not being used by any other sources. If it is, move the other sources to a different outlet.

 3. Clear a 3-foot radius around the space heater, ensuring there is nothing flammable nearby (curtains, chemicals, paper, etc.).

4. After plugging the space heater into a safe and isolated outlet, turn the heater on and stay close by while in use.

5. Never leave a space heater turned on and unattended in your home.


What to Do If Your Space Heater Causes a Fire

Grab a nearby fire extinguisher (make sure your home has one!) and use it to put out the fire. Because you are presumably maintaining a close watch, you should catch the fire almost immediately and be able to quickly put it out with a small home extinguisher. If the previously addressed steps are not followed and the fire escalates, quickly remove yourself and family from the home by following your fire escape plan. Your family should meet at your predetermined emergency meeting spot and call 911 to handle the fire.

When exiting the home, do not be distracted by trying to grab items of sentiment. Things, unlike yourself and your family, can be replaced.

Use Safety Precautions to Rest Easy

The last thing any homeowner or renter wants to think about is the possibility of fire. But thinking ahead, learning about safety precautions and following them adamantly is the best way to stay safe and prevent a fire from starting in your home. To learn more about home fire prevention, click here. And to learn more about protecting your property with home or renters insurance, click on the button below.