Are Room Heaters Safe to Use?

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Are room heaters safe to use
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Winter is at its peak.

If there’s a room in your house that just won’t warm up and the primary heating system is inoperable, insufficient, or too expensive to build or maintain, room heaters are a good solution.

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Small room heaters can occasionally be more cost-effective to use if you only need to heat one area or supplement insufficient warmth in one room. Without warming the entire house, they can also raise the temperature in rooms frequented by people with cold intolerance.

The question arises: Are room heaters safe to use?

Recently in Gurugram, India, one incident occurred. In a club, two people died. In the post-mortem report, it is confirmed that the cause of death was due to suffocation caused by smoke produced by the room heater. A similar, incident occurred in Sambalpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. A couple was found unconscious in the morning. While taken to the hospital, they died before they reach the hospital. The cause of death was due to room heaters.

Room heaters can be a fire hazard if you are not aware of using them properly. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable space heaters cause 1,700 house fires annually on average. Approximately 80 people per year perish in fires triggered by portable space heaters.

Why Room heaters (space heaters) can be dangerous?

Electric room heaters can produce Carbon Monoxide Gas. However, good-quality electric room heaters do not produce CO.

Electric room heaters use heating coils. The coils get very hot. When Oxygen passes through these coils there would be incomplete combustion around the coil and other substances which results in producing Carbon Monoxide gas.

While non-electric space heaters (such as those powered by propane gas, natural gas, kerosene, or wood) can emit carbon monoxide (CO), they can if incomplete combustion takes place.

It is advised that a functional CO detector be used to signal the presence of high-level CO gas while these sorts of heaters are in use.

If ventilation inside the room is not proper, the carbon monoxide gas starts getting accumulated inside the room. Through breathing the CO gas enters the human body and decreases the Oxygen level inside the body affecting the brain functioning. This is called ASPHYXIA which may cause DEATH also.

Furthermore, the use of electric room heaters can increase the chance of fire inside the house. I would put light on this further in this article.

Symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning:

Victims show the following symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Body Aches or pain
  • The feeling of Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the chest or shortness of breath
  • Unconsciousness
  • Feeling Dizzy
  • Memory problems

Other problems that Victims may complain about due to room heaters are –

  • Humidity increases due to hot air produced around the room heaters. This increase in humidity causes skin rashes or allergies.
  • Victims can show flu-like symptoms as well.

Safety Tips for using Room Heaters

Now that you know that using room heaters can be dangerous and cause even fire sometimes.

But the good news is that if we use them safely following proper safety guidelines we can minimize the chance of fire and the danger associated with the room heaters.

I would provide safety tips for using room heaters for preventing fire and reducing Asphyxia (Sleep suffocation).

Safety tips for using Room Heater to Prevent Fire

  • Make sure a heater you buy has undergone testing from a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

In India, you must see for ISI mark labeled on the heater. It must comply with the              standard IS 302 Part-2 section 30.

In the US, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is the NRTL that is most frequently                      acknowledged.

  • Keep flammable items like mattresses, couches, curtains, documents, and clothing at least three feet (one meter) away from the heater’s front, top, sides, and back.
  • The heater to be used after a long time must be checked thoroughly. Check for any damage to the cable or cord, the plug, and the heater coil itself.
  • Follow the maintenance tips given by the manufacturer, if you are going to use the heater for a long time.
  • Must read the ‘User Instruction Manual’ before operating the room heater.
  • Throughout use, make frequent checks to see if the switchboard, heater plug, and heater cable is getting hot or not.

Stop using the heater if the switchboard, heater cable, and heater plug are getting hot.      Call a licensed electrician to inspect and/or replace the plug or damaged switchboard.          Disconnect the heater if the cable is hot and get it checked or repaired by a qualified          technician.

  • Never use power strips or extension boards to power up the room heater. Power strips and extension boards have limited current handling capacity.
  • Make sure that the heater plug tightly fits into the socket. If not, do not use such a socket. Using such a socket may cause a fire.
  • Keep electric heaters away from water at all times to avoid electrical shocks and electrocutions, and never touch an electric heater when wet.
  • Make sure that the room heater is placed on a stable surface.

Safety Tips for using Room Heaters to Prevent Asphyxia (Sleep Suffocation)

We discussed how room heaters can produce carbon monoxide inside the room. If a person inhales carbon monoxide, it can be fatal.

Here, I am giving you tips to prevent Asphyxia (Sleep Suffocation) which is caused due to carbon monoxide gas.

  • Never leave the room heater unattended inside the room or while you are sleeping.
  • Have proper cross-ventilation inside the room where you are using the room heater. Doing this practice prevents carbon monoxide accumulation inside the room.
  • Using radiant and convection-type heaters reduces the moisture inside the room. The solution for this is to have a vessel full of water and place it inside the room where you are using the room heater. Make sure that the vessel with water is placed away from the room heater. Keeping the vessel full of water maintains moisture inside the room.
  • If you are a sinus patient, an asthma patient, a smoker, or any kind of disease that relates heart or lungs, please do not use room heaters.

In addition to this, try to avoid using a heater, especially a convection type if you have a      five or below five-year-old kid in your house.

  • There are three main types of heaters, i.e. convection heaters, radiant heaters, and oil-type heaters.

Among these three, oil-type heaters are the safest to use.

  • Choose a heater with a thermostat. If must auto cut off once the temperature is achieved.

Wrapping Up

Seeing the dangers of using room heaters, one may think of stopping the use of room heaters.

No no – we should stop using room heaters. We must follow the safety tips and use room heaters safely.

My article intends to spread awareness related to room heaters’ danger and how to use room heaters safely.

Spread these safety tips of using room heaters to your friends and family as well.

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