Although electricity is the safest and most convenient fuel in many heating situations, it is of course not without its inherent risks. Although there is no possibility of a silent killer, like carbon monoxide, emitting into the atmosphere, the dangers of faulty wiring and the utilization of electrical equipment in areas where water is present create a different kind of danger.
Modern equipment has, of course, eliminated the risks of injury or death from all kinds of electrical equipment. In the case of electric heaters, this includes the use of synthetic polymers in wiring, which are similar to rubber in their ability to insulate. Also, modern circuit breakers are able to disable a circuit in the case of a short circuit, or overloaded system.
Sadly electric space heaters are still responsible for many accidents and deaths, despite these modern advances. Fire, rather than electrocution, remains the biggest danger. These fires, often caused by malfunctioning elements or careless use of the heater, are liable not only for injuries and deaths every year, they also cause millions of pounds of damage to buildings and property.
The elements of many electric space heaters are not only dangerous if they malfunction, the inherent heat can in itself be a hazard. If the heater is not placed a safe distance away from neighboring furnishings, extremely flammable materials can be set alight, often emitting dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Although rules relating acceptable materials in furnishings have been tightened considering in recent years, many old items remain in circulation.
As well as items of furniture, curtains are a major problem. This is due heaters tend to be placed at the edge of a room, allowing the heat to reach all parts of it. Also, as the area in the vicinity of windows tend to be the coldest part of a room, the heater is often placed in this area, making the risk of overheating curtains a very real possibility.
Paper items are also very much at risk, as well as items of clothing, which are often deliberately placed near to heaters to get rid of cold or damp. Of course it goes without saying that all kinds of flammable liquid must be kept well away from fires and heaters. Still, despite this being obvious, thousands of accidents occur every year because this simple advice is completely ignored.
Water is especially hazardous when using an electric heater. Even though there are never any electrical power points in a modern bathroom, which in itself is testimony to the danger of electricity mixed with water, modern homes are often fitted with a stand-alone electric heater on the wall. In this case it is especially important to make sure that all necessary safety checks are carried out on a regular basis. Of course you should absolutely never bring an extension lead into a bathroom so you can use an electric space heater.
If you are going to use electricity to heat your home, especially if you are going to use space heaters which plug into the mains, make sure you do the necessary research into safety precautions, Government policies and recommendations and the advice of charities and associations concerned with safety advice.