FRIDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans use space
heaters to provide extra warmth during winter, but they can cause
burns and fires if not used properly, an expert warns.
"Every year we receive patients who are victims of house fires
caused by space heaters," Dr. Richard Gamelli, director of the Burn
and Shock Trauma Institute at Loyola University Medical Center in
Chicago, said in a Loyola news release. "So many of these injuries
are preventable if simple precautions are taken," he added.
Each year in the United States, space heaters cause more than
25,000 residential fires, more than 300 deaths, and more than 6,000
burn injuries that require emergency department care, according to
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Loyola and the U.S. Department of Energy offer the following
space heater safety tips: Don't place space heaters on carpets or rugs. Keep heaters at
least 3 feet away from furniture, curtains and bedding, and other
combustible material.Place space heaters on a hard, level surface where a child or
family pet cannot brush up against them. Never leave a space heater
on when an adult is not in the room.Never keep flammable liquids near a space heater.Electric space heaters are the safest type of space heater for
the home. Plug them directly into a wall outlet. If an extension
cord is needed, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or
larger.Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, to shut off the
heating element if the heater falls over.Do not use unvented combustion space heaters inside your home
because they can produce dangerous emissions such as carbon
monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Vented units that are sealed
combustion heaters are safer because they are less likely to
backdraft and harm indoor air quality. They are more efficient
because they do not draw in heated air from the room and exhaust it
to the outdoors.When using a combustion space heater, follow the manufacturer's
recommendations for fueling and use only the approved fuel. Never
fill a heater that is hot. Never overfill a heater; instead, allow
room for fuel expansion. Store fuel outdoors.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about
space heater safety.