Electric Heater Safety Guide

By Hannah Cheshire

Let’s face it British weather is peculiar, unpredictable and quite often a bit on the mild side. No matter the time of year; there is always a chance of a chill in the air.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that heating the whole house is the most cost-effective option or even the one you want or need to take. You might just need a little bit of heat in the living room for an hour or two.

The popular alternative to heating your home often comes in the form of portable electric heaters. They are easy to use, convenient and capable of producing a good deal of heat in no time at all, but as with everything electrical and heat-related, there are risks associated with them.

According to Electrical Safety First, each year portable heaters are responsible for 4% of accidental house fires which are often caused by owners using the heater for other purposes, than which it was intended, rather than a technical fault with the appliance itself. So, in other words, they are completely avoidable.

With this in mind we’ve compiled eight essential steps to take in order to avoid basic mistakes to ensure that you are using your heater safely and sensibly.

#1: Don’t Use an Extension Lead

Extension leads can be easily overloaded, which can cause a fire, especially when they are used to send power to an appliance that’s sole purpose is to generate heat.

This makes them particularly unsuitable not just for powering portable heaters, but toasters, microwaves and tumble dryers too.

#2: Use It Only for What It Was Intended For

Heaters have one purpose – to produce heat!

They should not be used for anything other than this, such as drying clothes since this poses a considerable fire risk, especially when the clothing is made of materials like cotton/polyester blends or acrylics.

They also need to be kept out in the open, at a safe distance away from any combustible materials such as beds, curtains, paper, clothing and furniture.

#3: Don’t Leave Unattended or On Overnight

It goes without saying that when you are asleep, you aren’t able to respond to an emergency situation.

There are multiple flammable items in a bedroom and therefore the probability of something going wrong increases if you’ve left a heater on overnight.

This not only poses a serious danger to yourself and your family but in most cases, you’re probably using unnecessary electricity and therefore increasing energy bills too.

#4: Inspect for Damage Before Use

Any electrical appliance should be regularly checked for signs of wear and tear, no matter its function.

Be especially mindful of any damage to the point where the cable meets the device, fraying of the insulating material around the wires, or damage to the plug itself.

If you find anything you’re not sure about, don’t use it! Get it checked over and fixed by a professional or get a new one; it really isn’t worth the risk.

#5: Keep Your Distance

Portable heaters give off a fair bit of heat, considering their size and function to efficiently heat an entire room, so there is no need to sit too close to it.

Sitting too close to a portable heater poses a serious fire risk as you could easily set light to your clothes or chair, causing serious burn injuries.

#6: Keep It on a Level Surface

Make sure you place your heater on a level surface. It needs to be stable and located in a place where it can’t be knocked over.

This includes ensuring that the wires are safely placed to avoid a potential tripping hazard.

#7: Keep it Out of the Reach of Children and Pets

Children are inquisitive by nature, and depending on their age, have little to no regard for danger.

Aside from the risk of tripping over wires, portable heaters get very hot so it’s crucial to keep them out of the way of children to avoid injury.

Pets are prone to curling up in nice warm locations, and right next to the heater is just about the warmest place there is to be, so it’s essential that your pets are also kept away to prevent serious injury.

Portable heaters have caused 73 deaths, around 1000 injuries and over 3,800 fires since 2009/10, so they must be handled correctly.

#8: Register Your Appliance

By registering new appliances, including portable heaters, you will be contacted and informed if there is safety notice or recall related to that appliance.

In fact, thirteen fires every day are caused by faulty and unreturned recalled electrical goods, so it really is so essential to ensure you’re only using products that are in good working order.

If you have any questions about anything we’ve covered in this blog, or you’re interested in our industry-leading fire prevention software, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Hannah Cheshire | Head of Marketing

Favourite superhero: Wolverine

Favourite sport: Ice hockey

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