How to use heaters safely this winter

When the temperature starts dropping, you turn to your heater to keep your home warm.

Miranda Moahlodi, Eskom’s Senior Manager for Health and Safety says, “Eskom comes across many electricity-related home fires in winter and as such, we would like to equip you with some tips on how to safely heat your homes this winter.”

  • Have a professional inspect your gas heater at least once a year. A heater or furnace with leaks or cracks could release carbon monoxide into your home or cause a fire.
  • If you use a fireplace, have a professional inspect and clean it every year. Keep flammable materials away from the open flame area. Do not burn trash, cardboard boxes or items that may contain chemicals that can poison the air in your home.
  • Never use a gas or electric stove or an oven as a heating source. This poses a fire hazard, and releases dangerous fumes such as carbon monoxide.
  • Get an electrician to check for faulty wiring that can cause electric shocks or fires. Supervise children and pets around space heaters.
  • If you are going to use a portable space heater, make sure you never leave it unattended and remember to turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Always keep the space heater at least a meter away from anything that can catch fire such as curtains, paper, blankets or furniture, and place it away from busy areas of your home like doorways. 

More safety tips 

  • Teach children about the safety of electrical or gas heaters and teach them not to operate any on their own.
  • In the case of open flame space heaters, make sure that there’s no dust or dirt in the heater.
  • Before using any heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If the cords are frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Electric heaters should be kept out of wet or moist places like bathrooms, as water could lead to a fire or shock hazard.
  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire or use them to dry wet clothing.
  • Never put flammable liquid in areas where heaters are used.
  • When using a fuel-fired heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow fresh air to enter. This will help prevent carbon monoxide build-up or a depletion of oxygen levels.
  • Try not to use a gas-fired or kerosene heater in a confined space as the results could be deadly.

“We urge communities to really take care when heating their homes this winter. Never forget the safety of your family and your neighbours – fires can rage out of control quickly,” Moahlodi concludes.

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