It’s winter here in Huntsville and many people use space heaters to warm up the parts of their house that just can’t seem to warm up. While most of the time space heaters are safe and a good option for adding a little extra heat, the National Fire Protection Associate found that 32 percent of house fires were caused by space heaters.
Knowing how to safely use a space heater will prevent most cases of home heating fires, but what about bad space heaters? Poorly made space heaters significantly increase the risk of house fires because they get hotter and ignite nearby materials in your house. Bad space heaters, or improperly using them, can also cause electrical fires.
We here at The Cochran Firm want you to have a safe and comfortable winter. Below are some tips on how to recognize and avoid bad space heaters this winter. We have also included some safe space heater usage tips and what legal action to take if a bad space heater causes a fire in your home.
How to Spot Bad Space Heaters
Note that when we say bad space heaters, we mean space heaters that increase the risk of a house fire. Most heaters on the market today will have safety features, but others will not. Most heaters will not be defective, but if there is a design flaw, the manufacturer will issue a recall. In fact, Amazon recalled almost 400,000 AmazonBasics 1500 watt ceramic space heaters back in June 2019.
One company that monitors product quality is Consumer Reports. When they perform quality tests on space heaters, they rate them on a scale from Poor to Excellent. Some of the tests they perform include a hot-surface test and a fire safety test. You can access their list of ratings, but for a cost. If any product fails their tests, space heater recalls usually follow. However, you don’t need to pay to know whether your heater is safe or not.
Look for the following when shopping for, or investigating a space heater:
Independent testing organizations test products before they go on the market. Look for ETL, UL, and CSA marks. These organizations certify if a product has passed national safety standards.
This is one of the best improvements in modern space heaters. Heaters with this feature have a sensor that forces the heater to turn off if it gets too hot. Heaters with this feature also usually have a thermostat-like setting, so you don’t have to keep turning it on and off again. If you’re buying a small heater, look for one that has a tip-over switch as well. This will also automatically shut down the heater if it is knocked over.
We see this acronym often, and it stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. These safety features help prevent electric shock when using an electric device. Some outlets come with this already installed, but GFCI is rarer in space heaters. Hairdryers are the most common product with GFCI plugs. So, if you can’t find a heater with a GFCI, it is safe to use inside, but not near water.
Long Sturdy Cords
It can be tempting to plug a space heater into an extension cord or power supply, but doing so poses a great risk. Because space heaters use so much energy and have high internal temperatures, they can easily melt power supplies and extension cords.
While no heater may be perfect, most are safe to use. Remember to read or watch product reviews before buying a heater.
Space Heater Safety
Now that you know how to find a good space heater, here are a few tips on using them safely.
- Clear away fire and burn hazards from around the heater.
- Clear away blankets, towels, socks, and other clutter that could melt or catch on fire.
- Never use a space heater on or near a carpet.
- Buy a heater appropriate for the size of the room.
- Educate children on how to use the heater.
- Never go to bed while a space heater is on, especially if you have a fuel-burning heater.
- Make sure the heater is in good condition
- Look for frayed or damaged electrical cords
- Unplug and store your heater when not in use
Basically, it boils down to common sense. Space heaters are not meant to be complicated. But, if you do buy a space heater too big for the room, there will be a greater risk of a fire.
What to do if a Bad Space Heater Causes a Fire
If you have been a victim of a fire from a bad space heater, there is help available. Our expert personal injury and product liability lawyers can help you build a successful case and get compensation. While product liability cases can be complex and challenging, they are not impossible.
The main element in any personal injury case against the defendant is negligence. In Alabama, product liability claims are limited by two years since the incident. In addition to negligence, product liability claims can be based on strict liability, and breach of warranty laws.
Proving negligence involves showing that you were harmed due to the manufacturer’s failure to provide a quality product. Document and save as much evidence as you can after a space heater fire. If you can salvage the space heater in question, do so. The more evidence you have that you were using the product safely, the better. Your personal injury lawyer will be able to help you identify and provide further evidence for your case.
We Are Here to Help
If you or someone you know has been hurt by a bad space heater, you can seek compensation from the manufacturer. While personal injury and product liability cases can be complicated, our renowned lawyers at The Cochran Firm Huntsville are dedicated to serving you. At our law firm, we also offer legal services for wrongful death, medical malpractice, and automotive accidents.
Our attorneys have been recognized by the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association with their highest award. Let us fight by your side to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us by phone or email, and set up a FREE consultation today.