What are some ways I can keep my family safe if I’m using alternative heat sources?

What are some ways I can keep my family safe if I’m using alternative heat sources?

Dear Matt,
I know you typically give us some tips for saving money, but what about safety? What are some ways I can keep my family safe if I’m using alternative heat sources?

This is a great question as we move toward the coldest part of the year. Many folks utilize space heaters or portable heat sources in their homes this time of year, and we can’t forget about electric blankets or heated mattress pads. Just remember that although they work great for confined spaces, heating your home with a space heater can still be costly. They are great for keeping a small space warm, but you still have to plug them in, which means they are using energy and increasing your electric usage. Pay attention to the wattage on the device and keep in mind they are most beneficial in smaller spaces. 

When we’re using these items it’s also important to think about safety. These items can be dangerous if we don’t take precautions while using them. Keep these devices away from pets and children to prevent accidental burns. Follow these safety tips this winter for keeping your family safe. 

  • Ensure space heaters are in good repair. 
  • Do not use an extension cord to power a space heater. Plug it directly into the electrical outlet.
  • Space heaters should have an automatic shut-off in the event they tip over.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from curtains, draperies, loose paper and upholstery.
  • Keep space heaters out of reach from small children and pets.
  • Never use heaters as drying racks.
  • If a heater is running on fuel, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for ventilation needs.
  • Keep chimneys and flues free from corrosion or blockages.
  • Do not tuck your electric blanket under the mattress.
  • Utilize automatic turn-off features if possible to prevent accidentally leaving the device on and unattended. 
  • Do not allow pets to sleep on electric blankets.
  • Extension cords used for outdoor weather tools should be approved for outdoor use.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions on any heating device.