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

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Nov 19, 2018

One Simple Mistake You Might Be Making That Could Lead to a 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. Knowing the capability of both the heater and outlets you are using is crucial. 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.

Why Not to Use Space Heaters On 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 it isn’t capable of likely resulting in it overheating, sparking, and beginning a fire.

How to Safely Use Space Heaters
Although they should be used as a last resort, you should follow these 5 steps to safely use 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 nothing flammable is nearby (curtains, chemicals, paper, etc.).

4. After plugging the space heater into a safe and isolated outlet, turn on the heater 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 (all homes should have them) and use this 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. Items can be replaced, you cannot.

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