Using a space heater to replace or supplement central heat can effectively heat a space, making cold rooms more comfortable and inviting. When children are in the home, special considerations must be made to ensure that safety is a top priority. Burns and fires are two of the top hazards associated with the use of space heaters. These two risks are minimized by choosing a child-friendly heater.
Types of Heaters
Space heaters work by either convection or radiant heat. Convection heaters can warm an entire room, such as a playroom. Radiant heaters heat the area directly in front of the heater. Since children don't sit still for very long, convection heaters may be a better choice for heating a play area. A ceramic heater is a newer type of convection heater with ceramic plates completely encased and inaccessible, thus eliminating the risk of burns. This type of heater is also energy efficient and can evenly heat a room up to 1,000 square feet.
What to Look For
Choose a space heater that completely hides the heating element, and make sure that the outer casing stays cool to the touch while the heater is in operation. Never use a gas heater indoors because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. When using a space heater around children, choose one that has been tested by an organization such as Underwriters Laboratories to be sure that the heater won't overheat and catch on fire.
No matter what model you choose, never leave a child alone in a room with an operating heater. To prevent liquid spills on a heater, make sure that children keep sippy cups, bottles, bubbles and water guns away from it. Check the cord frequently to ensure that there are no frays and no damage present. Children can be rough on furnishings, so be sure that wear and tear hasn't occurred.
A heater is only safe if it is positioned flat on the floor and well away from furniture, curtains, bedding and any combustible materials. Keep a three-foot margin around the heater to avoid a fire. Children should be taught to avoid the heater and not be allowed to touch it, climb on it or play with the controls. Choose a heater with a programmable thermostat to prevent the heater from running unnecessarily.