It’s cold outside. Correction – it is absolutely freezing outside, and when homeowners decide that they could use a little extra boost of heat sitting at the feet of their office desk in the den, your property runs the risk of a fire. There are added risks in winter months when it comes to space heaters, and if you don’t think it could happen to your property, know that fire doesn’t care about the age of a building.
Space Heaters account for an average 25,000 home fires a year, and 6,000 emergency room visits. TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND home fires from these little contraptions that seem oh so innocent. “Approximately one-third of all house fires nationwide happen during the cold home-heating months between December and February… Equipment that is intended to add a little extra warmth, such as space heaters, is the leading cause of these fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPE).” Not convinced yet? In 2011, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 53,600 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 400 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $893 million in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 14% of all reported home fires.
So now we all realize that the innocent space heater is not all that innocent. There are tons of dangers associated with space heaters and no one is exempt. But there are precautions you and your tenants can take to mitigate fire risk with these toasty little machines. Knowing that placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths, your first course of action is letting tenants know that keeping space heaters isolated and out of reach of fabric and flammable materials is the best way to prevent fire due to space heaters. And when in doubt – remember the 3 feet rule : always keep everything at least 3 feet away from a space heater at all times.
Other precautions include (found on safeelectricity.org):
Only you can prevent house fires (yes, we borrowed the tag line). But it is true – space heaters are awesome inventions, but they’re quite dangerous when not used properly. Please, PLEASE be safe when it comes to using a space heater!