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Context

Our toddler has been sleeping in our room until now but has always slept in his own bed. We want to transition him to sleeping in his own room however winter is coming and we are concerned the room will be too cold (5° - 9°C / 41 - 48°F). 🥶

Our home does not have central heating. We want to heat the room safely using a floor-standing electric heater. We need it to be virtually zero risk of fire (even though we have smoke alarms) or burning the child if they touch it.

We've searched online and in stores but not found anything suitable.

Question

What are the most important things to consider when choosing a (reasonably) child-safe heater?

(Not asking for a specific product recommendation, just general guidance from more experienced people)

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    Great question! Thanks for asking it. However, product recommendations are off topic here. Could you please edit the question to make it for the site? Thanks! Nov 21, 2021 at 1:51
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    Hi there - there are no child-safe heaters, and we don't do product recommendations, however you could edit your question to be around what other parents do to heat their rooms and that will probably give you a useful answer.
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 21, 2021 at 10:18
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    @nelsonic - Your question is now much better! putting questions on hold until they have clarity benefits everybody - answers on an unclear post may be invalidated when more info is added. It's not even vaguely hostile - it is focusing on quality, though. Any new visitor should read the welcome pages they click through, as all this is described pretty well.
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 22, 2021 at 10:34
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    And thank you @TimurShtatland - excellent edits
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 22, 2021 at 10:36
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    How do you heat your room? Where is his room in relation to yours?
    – anongoodnurse
    Nov 22, 2021 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

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The core things to ensure are:

  1. Ensure the device is listed with the appropriate regulatory body (in the US, this would be "UL Listed", but this will vary in other countries). Typically this is explicitly on the label of the device, but you can, and should, also look up the device with the regulatory body (UL listings for example are here. Typically there's also contact information (UL has a phone number and email address) if you don't want to go through the hoops of getting an account etc.

  2. Ensure the device is grounded (in the US, this means it has a 3 prong plug). This makes it much less likely the device will have an electric fault causing a fire or electrocution.

  3. Ensure you have an outlet that will support the necessary amperage for the heater, ideally on a separate outlet (at least in the US). (This piece of advice may be a bit US centric, I know that European wiring is different and don't know enough to say if this applies there or not.). It's not required, but as space/floor heaters use a significant amount of power constantly, they're very likely to end up overloading circuits if they're on a shared circuit with other things. The safest choice is a single circuit just for the space heater's outlet. This will vary in some countries depending on how electrical wiring is typically done and what voltage is supported; contact a local electrician to make sure you're fine. Do not put it on the same circuit (not just meaning the same wall outlet, but any other outlet on the same circuit) as another device or devices that draw significant power (think a microwave, another heater, etc.).

  4. Ensure the heater is located in safe location, that is not near anything at all - the heater will specify a radius that must be kept clear of anything, not just flammable things. Further, in a toddler's room, consider that odds are the toddler will find a way to put something flammable near it if at all possible! Consider keeping the room clear of anything that could be thrown near the heater - stuffed animals and blankets are the biggest risk here, though, and pretty hard to keep away from a toddler. Do your best.

  5. Ensure you have working fire alarm and CO detectors in the room. Make sure they will alert you - many modern detectors can be interconnected so one going off will alarm the others. There's no way to be 100.0% fire safe, especially with electric heaters, so make sure you will know if one does happen.

  6. Pick a heater that has a grating that is smaller than a child's smallest finger, or a style that has no need for a grating. Expect your child will find a way in to anything that can be gotten into.

  7. Pick a heater that will not tip over - floor heaters can be "tippy" if they're too narrow/tall. Make sure it has a wide enough base that your child cannot tip it over.

There are some "nursery heaters" that are aimed at this market; I don't know anything about them, but they seem to have most of the heater-specific criteria covered at least. If the outside only gets down to 5ºC, you may be able to go with one of the less powerful options, which will make it much safer at least in terms of the electricity-related risks.

Also consider other options you can use to keep the room warm, including insulating the room (you can cover windows in plastic to add a few degrees' insulation, as those are often the worst offenders particularly if they're old single pane windows), and simply avoiding heating the room except when absolutely necessary - blankets and warm PJs do wonders, even down to 5ºC external temperature. If the house can hang out at 15ºC just with its insulation, you may be able to avoid running the heater nearly ever.

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  • Wow! epic detailed answer @joe!
    – nelsonic
    Nov 22, 2021 at 23:25
  • Something that could be added, there are child-barriers on the market that can be used for child-proving a fireplace. Such a barrier might also be used to ensure the child cannot reach the heater. Nov 23, 2021 at 8:52
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    @BartvanIngenSchenau I am not a fan of child barriers in this case for a couple of reasons. One is that it's very hard to get them totally stable, especially in a presumably rented, presumably older building. I wouldn't want the barrier itself to become a risk - if it got too close to the heater, it would risk itself catching fire or heating up to a dangerous level. Another reason is it's hard to know when your child can climb over the barrier -and it's always sooner than you think. My kids could climb out of their cribs at 16-17 months!
    – Joe
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:41
  • Other things to look for are a thermal fuse or other overheat protection (shuts off the heater if it gets too hot), and a tipover switch (shuts off the heater if it's no longer upright). Some regulatory bodies require these, but not all.
    – Mark
    Dec 11, 2021 at 6:36
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I went through (am going through) the same issues with my kids since natural gas is really expensive where I live.

I think Joe's answer is solid from the perspective of, "Minimize the risk of a fire and burning the house down," but there are some additional product-specific features you may want to consider when you're looking to buy something.

These were not available some 30 years ago when I was a kid, but it's a new era:

  • Tip over protection: Specifically, if the device tips over, it turns off. As a general rule, whenever I set up the heater in my kids' room, I confirm that this is functioning before I leave for the night.
  • Cool exterior housing: The entire housing of the unit should be able to be touched without burning yourself. This doesn't mean it's comfortable to touch. The ones I have all have a plastic housing, which I'm guessing heat up to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit; it's not comfortable to touch but it isn't so hot that they'll immediately burn their hand if they touch it.
  • Narrow slats: The narrow slats on the heater make it nearly impossible for my kids to stick anything child-safe inside of it. This is obviously no defense for the situation of when my kid somehow has found a paperclip and has stuck it in their mouth facepalms but it should cover you for most other scenarios like when they try and stick their toy dinosaur in it.

If you are in the US, a lot of these features are readily available from most commercial retailers. I cannot speak to their availability elsewhere.

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