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That's right; we are now at that time of year when we'll have extended periods of bitter cold!  And many of us supplement our heating system by plugging in a space heater, whether it be in our living room, study, or bedroom.  However, if not used safely and properly, space heaters are a leading cause of home fires.  Don't become a statistic!  Be smart when it comes to using space heaters.  Here are some helpful tips:

*When purchasing a space heater, make sure it's been UL tested and approved.  When you get the unit home, carefully read the Owner's Manual before using.

*Before plugging your unit in, carefully inspect the heater.  Are there any defects, any damage?  Is the electrical cord frayed or damaged?  Any wires exposed?  If the unit shows any sign of damage or defect, do not plug it in!

*Unless the instructions designate otherwise, NEVER use your space heater outdoors, or in a room with plumbing, such as a kitchen or bathroom.  The last thing you want to expose your space heater to is running water!

*Space heaters are designed to be used for SUPPLEMENTAL heat.  Never use a space heater as your sole source of heating your home.  Not only is it dangerous, but the energy it will use will become extremely expensive!

*Don't run your unit for hours at a time.  Many units shut themselves off after a designated period of time, such as one or two hours.  But many units do not.  If your unit doesn't automatically shut off, run it for only an hour or so, then turn it off, and unplug it. 

*Periodically feel the electrical cord; if it's hot, turn your unit off, and unplug it at once!

*Never use a space heater while sleeping.  Always make sure your unit is running when there is an alert adult available.

*Set your unit on an even surface.  Never put your unit on an uneven, or lopsided surface.

*When a unit is not in use, always unplug it.

*Three feet. . .that's the minimum distance any object should be from your space heater--whether it be clothing, objects, toys, or people!

*No unsupervised children!  A child sticking a finger and/or object inside the grill of a space heater can cause severe injury.  If you have an infant, keep them in a playpen while they're in the room with your space heater.

Stay warm this cold weather season.  But also stay safe!
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