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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that from 2008-2010, portable electric heaters were involved in approximately 1,200 fires per year. Portable electric heaters are high-wattage appliances that have the potential to ignite nearby combustible materials like curtains, beds, sofas, paper, clothing and flammable liquids. If ignition results from a heater left on and unattended, a major fire could result.
CPSC recommends the following for the safe use of electric heaters:
• Never operate a heater you suspect is damaged. Before using, inspect the heater, cord and plug for damage. Follow all operation and maintenance instructions. V
• Never leave the heater operating while unattended or while you are sleeping.
• Keep combustible materials such as beds, sofas, curtains, papers and clothes at least three feet from the front, sides and rear of the heater.
• Be sure the heater plug fits tightly into the wall outlet. If not, do not use the outlet to power the heater.
• If the heater plug, cord, wall outlet or faceplate is hot, disconnect the heater and have it inspected or repaired.
• Never power the heater with an extension cord or power strip.
• Make sure the heater is placed on a stable, level surface and is located where it will not be knocked over.
• Never run the heater’s cord under rugs or carpeting. This can damage the cord, causing it and nearby objects to burn.
• To prevent electric shocks and electrocutions, always keep electric heaters away from water and never touch an electric heater if you are wet.
For more portable electric heater safety information, contact the Carbondale Fire Department at (618) 457-3234 or visit the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov.