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The Proper Use of Space Heaters in the Work Place

The Facility Operations does not purchase, support, or encourage use of space heaters on campus, but the use of space heaters in offices is quite common in the winter. Even in warmer climates, winter mornings can bring a chill. And while these seemingly harmless devices may be an efficient way to heat a cold or drafty space, they can pose certain safety hazards when used incorrectly.

Even though a space heater does not have an open flame, the heating elements of some are hot enough to cause nearby combustibles to ignite. Additionally, fires can be caused by improper use, and burns by contact with the heating element or a hot surface.

Therefore, taking appropriate safety measures is vital in preventing an accident. It is also important to review space heater policies with building management.

Space Heater Safety Precautions:

  • Choose a space heater with a guard around the heating element.
  • Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions on how far the heater should be placed from other objects.
  • Only use a heater that employs a tip-over switch that will shut the unit off
  • Use a heater certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
  • Never leave an unattended heater turned on.
  • Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids around a space heater.
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes or equipment or thaw pipes.
  • Do not place a heater where objects could fall on it.
  • Follow the instructions and safety precautions for operation and maintenance.
  • Never use a portable heater in a bathroom or near a sink.
  • Do not run the heater's cord under carpeting or where someone could trip over it.
  • Never touch an electric heater if you are wet.
  • Never operate a defective or broken heater.
  • Install and maintain a smoke detector in the area where the heater will be used.

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