Are Electric Baseboard Heaters Safe?

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Toys left on baseboard heaters can cause fires.
Toys left on baseboard heaters can cause fires. (Image: Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Many older homes use baseboard heating as the primary heat source in the home. Baseboard heating is effective for keeping your home warm and comfortable during cold winter months. While baseboard heating is generally safe, precautions are necessary to reduce the risk of fire and keep children and pets safe.

Children

Baseboard heaters are very hot to the touch, and young children who touch baseboard heaters when they are turned on may suffer burns. Children who are just learning to crawl and stand are most at risk, as they may use the baseboard heater to pull themselves up. To prevent injury, encourage children to avoid baseboard heaters by arranging the furniture in your home to guide your children towards the interior of the room and away from baseboard heaters. Children may also get their fingers stuck inside baseboard heaters when they are turned off.

Baseboard heaters can also burn pets so take caution, especially with small pets.

Fire Hazards & Prevention

Like any heat source baseboard heaters present a fire risk, especially when flammable objects are close by. Prevent this fire risk by ensuring your children do not leave toys laying on baseboard heating. Never lay an electrical cord on a baseboard heater, and take care that curtains, rugs and other fabric objects do not get close to baseboard heat. In addition, hang cords from window blinds so they do not fall into baseboard heaters.

To prevent the risk of fire, clean your baseboard heaters regularly. Dust, loose hair and other objects may cause fire. Always check for items that may be stuck inside baseboard heating units, including small pieces of paper or fabric. Always call a professional electrician when you encounter problems.

Heater and Furniture Placement

If you are installing baseboard heaters, do not place them below electrical outlets. In addition, ensure the heaters are at least 2 centimeters from the floor, according to the website Heat USA. When arranging furniture in a room with baseboard heating, allow plenty of space between the heaters and furniture to avoid the risk of fire and ensure your baseboard heaters heat your home effectively. Couches, chairs and other furniture should be placed at least 6 inches away from heaters.

Baseboard Covers

Baseboard covers are designed to fit over your existing baseboard heaters. While the exterior of the cover still becomes hot when the heat is turned on, the cover prevents items and small fingers from touching the hottest parts of the heater. Any burns that do occur will be less severe. In addition, these covers prevent toys, paper and other small objects from falling inside baseboard heaters and causing a fire. However, items placed on the cover of the heater may still pose a fire threat.

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