Safety tips to follow when using portable heaters

To save energy costs and to keep their homes warm, many people purchase portable electric heaters. You will use less energy with one or more portable room heaters than if you crank up the furnace. Did you know that for every degree you set your furnace above 68 that you increase your monthly bill by 3 to 5 percent? No wonder so many people are lowering the furnace thermostat and purchasing portable heaters. A portable heater can be beneficial, but just remember to follow these safety tips.

No matter what brand you purchase, read and follow the included instructions from the manufacturer. Look for the Underwriters Listed (UL) label. Whether you see that on heaters, batteries or Samsung appliances, it means UL has tested and evaluated the product to meet safety certain requirements. Which model is the best portable heater? The one that has all the safety features.

Keep your distance

Keep the heater away from flammable materials. Set heaters at least 3 feet away from all objects, including bedding, furniture and curtains. Ensure nothing blocks the intake or exhaust. Though the thought of trapping all that warmth is tempting, keep heaters away from enclosed spaces, such as under a computer desk. Avoid placing heaters in high-traffic areas, such as a hallway, and near exits.

Ways to keep kids safe

Make sure the heater has a guard over or around the heating element to keep small fingers from touching it. Avoid placing it in rooms or areas where children play. Also, keep the heater out of the nursery and children's bedrooms. Teach your children that the heater is not a toy and to stay away from it. Before leaving a room, turn off and unplug the heater, then cover the outlet.

Pets need protection too

Pets are a lot like children. To keep them from being burned, which location would be best? Portable heaters need to be where cats cannot jump onto them and dogs cannot touch them. Also, ensure that clumsy paws won't get tangled up in the cord and knock over the heater. Take care to keep cords away from pets so they can't chew on them either.

Other safety tips

fileUnless a heater is specifically designed to be used in a bathroom, keep it in other rooms. Moisture damages heaters and can cause electric shock or fire. Also, keep portable heaters indoors unless the manufacturer notes that it's safe for outdoors. Check the cord and outlet it's plugged into. If the cord is damaged, do not use the heater. Is the outlet or plug hot? If so, the outlet may need to be replaced. When unplugging the heater, don't tug on the cord; grab the plug at the outlet and remove.

Set a portable heater on a flat surface and not on furniture. Plug the heater directly into the outlet and not into an extension cord. Turn off the heater before you leave the room, and double- and triple-check to make sure it's not on when you leave your home. Portable heaters can help keep you warm and save you money on energy costs. Just remember to follow safety rules to keep your children, pets and home safe.

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