Portable fans are one way to help breeze comfortably through a summer heat wave, but as the season winds down, homeowners should continue to be aware of the potential safety hazards associated with their use. Inexpensive portable fans are not designed to operate long-term. Over time, plastic fan blades can crack or can get out of balance due to heavy dirt buildup. The occasional inadvertent knockover also is likely to cause damage that may not be immediately apparent. Exposed portions of the fan's cord can be damaged by foot traffic, vacuuming or objects inadvertently placed over the electric cords. Any fan that operates noisily or erratically should be immediately disconnected and repaired or replaced.


Underwriters Laboratories also recommends the following safety precautions:

  • Place the fan and cord out of general traffic patterns.
  • Position the fan on a stable, level surface.
  • Do not use a fan near an open flame or where combustibles could be blown toward a heat source.
  • Keep fans from outdoors or damp areas where electric shock could occur.
  • Do not attempt to start or move an operating fan in the dark.
  • Keep children away from all fans.
  • Immediately replace frayed or damaged wires, or dispose of the fan.
  • Be aware of fans sold at garage sales; in particular old metal blade units. In addition to possible damage, old units may lack the safety features available with the newer units. Look for a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Canada Standards Association (CSA) listing indicating manufacturing standards have been meet.

Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.

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