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Top Home Safety Tips for Portable Heaters

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January 15, 2014
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Top Home Safety Tips for Portable Heaters

One polar vortex down, and more freezing days possibly on the way: what an interesting winter we are having! But the remarkably low temperatures across much the US brought with them a serious threat, in the form of portable home heating appliances used incorrectly.

The Risk of Cold Temperatures

Yes, winter is the time when many people use portable heaters to supplement their regular home heating, and when temperatures plummet, especially in places that are not accustomed to cold weather, homeowners will use just about anything to stay warm: that’s where the trouble can start.

Statistics Show the Danger

Recent national statistics show that space heaters continue to ignite deadly fires. While only 32 % of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79 % of home heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This recent home fire story from New Albany, Indiana relates a tragedy that was completely avoidable.

Three children were killed in a house fire in New Albany, Ind., after a space heater ignited a flammable object, fire officials said. The deceased children were all under the age of 10, New Albany Fire Marshal Chris Koehler said. A fourth child was severely injured in the blaze, and two adults -- including the mother of the four children -- were at the scene when the fire began Saturday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

"The whole family's hurting," family member Lee Lipford said. "Everybody loved those kids like they were their own kids." The children were found in the home's front room after the fire was contained. The room was gutted, and the rest of the three-bedroom home sustained major heat and smoke damage. Investigators said they have sent the heater to a lab to rule out the possibility of an electrical problem. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Safety Tips for Portable Heating Devices

Let’s face it: these types of heating devices aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, their use is expected to increase as weather patterns become less predictable. It just makes sense that we should understand how to use portable heaters safely – and we will all be better off. Here is a great list of home safety tips for portable heaters, culled from what the experts recommend:

  • If you must use alternative heat, only buy products with an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tag. Follow local codes and manufacturers' recommendations exactly: all UL-listed products come with safety instructions.
  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • With electric space heaters, don't overload your home's electrical circuits.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Supervise children when a space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.

FrontPoint recommends that every home alarm system be monitored for smoke and heat. It shouldn’t cost you any more per month, and you’ll get additional discounts on hour home insurance. And in addition to at least one monitored wireless smoke & heat sensor for every home, we’re also big proponents of the monitored carbon monoxide sensor. As you might expect, FrontPoint provides both of these devices at affordable prices, with no additional monthly monitoring charge.

When it comes to making life safety a part of every intrusion detection system, FrontPoint believes it’s the responsible thing to do - and that makes it the right thing to do.  And when your peace of mind relies on safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable protection, FrontPoint is the provider of choice across the US and Canada for interactive, wireless home security. As we tough out the rest of winter together, stay warm – and stay safe!

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