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Space heater safety

Posted 10/24/2012   Updated 10/24/2012 Email story   Print story

    


66th Air Base Group Safety Office

10/24/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- With the cooler weather here, the use of alternative heating sources, such as portable heating appliances and other supplemental heating devices, may be utilized by many personnel.

It is important to note that portable electric heating appliances carry a much greater risk of causing a fire than central heating. Electric heating devices present a greater potential for human error, such as leaving them too close to combustible materials or failing to install, operate and maintain them properly.

Space heaters are not highly efficient and have significant fire and safety hazards associated with their use, but safety must be a top consideration when using them.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, causing more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Due to the risks associated with electric heating devices, contact the building facility manager for assistance before purchasing any heating devices. If an office is having heating problems, it should be reported to the facility manager. Use portable heating devices as a last resort.

If personnel decide to purchase a heating device, they should follow all safety precautions in accordance with Air Force Instruction 91-203, para 6.2.10 and 66th Air Base Group Instruction 32-2001, para 17.13.

Heat Producing Appliances:

· Use Underwriter's Laboratory-listed or host nation equivalent space heaters equipped with automatic shut-off devices that will shut the heater off if it tips over. Space heaters shall also have an overheat protection device and automatic thermostat control and must be disconnected when not in use.
· Plug space heaters directly into a wall receptacle. Do not plug space heaters into multiple outlet strips or systems furniture. Do not use an extension cord with an electric space heater.
· Maintain a 36-inch minimum distance or in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations between any heat producing appliance and combustibles. The more restrictive of the guidance will apply.
· The use of portable space heaters must be in accordance with the manufacturers' specifications and have the concurrence of the base energy awareness manager.
· Do not leave these devices unattended when in use and unplug them at the end of the day or shift.
· The use of space heaters in any hazardous location is prohibited.

Following are additional safety tips on the use of space heaters. When buying and installing a small space heater, follow these guidelines:

· Only purchase newer model heaters that contain all of the current safety features.
· Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter's Laboratory label.
· Choose a thermostatically controlled heater because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
· Select a heater of the proper size for the space that needs to be heated. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most come with a general sizing table.
· Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic.
· Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. Do not use extension cords.
· Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.

By following these simple rules, base personnel will enjoy a warm and comfortable winter.



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