Electric baseboard heaters are sometimes looked down upon for posing a fire risk and a burn hazard. However, they can actually be perfectly safe as long as the resident follows a few basic safety tips. Here are five ways to ensure your electric baseboard heat does not pose a risk to you or others in your home.

1. Do not block the flow of air.

Not only will blocking the flow of air keep your room from heating properly, but it will also keep the heat concentrated near the heater, making it hotter and increasing the risk of a fire. Make sure all furniture is pulled away from the baseboard heaters. Do not set boxes or other items temporarily in front of the heater, either.

2. Make sure your curtains are not too long.

Don't let the curtains drag onto the top of the baseboard heater. Should the heater overheat for any reason, curtains dragging on top of it could catch on fire. If your drapes are long, tying them back might do the trick. You could also switch from curtains to blinds – then you never have to worry about them dragging.

3. Teach kids not to touch the heaters – and why.

If a child's delicate skin touches the right part of the heater, they could suffer a burn. However, just telling your child not to touch the heater is not enough. Kids are curious and may touch the heater just to see what will happen. Explain to your child that if they do touch the heater, it will really hurt, and they will need to go to the doctor. If your child is too young to understand this, then do not leave them in a room unattended when the heater is turned on. A playpen can come in handy under these circumstances.

4. Vacuum the units often.

Dust and debris that accumulates inside the heater can, under rare circumstances, catch fire (particularly if your heater malfunctions or another situation causes it to overheat.) Vacuum the heaters on a weekly basis, while they are switched off, in order to keep dust accumulation to a minimum.

5. Make sure the units have been professionally installed.

Heaters that have not been installed properly are at an increased risk of malfunction. If you're not sure who installed the units and if they were installed professionally, have an HVAC contractor come out to inspect them and make sure they are safe. If you ever need to have any work done to these units, make sure you hire a professional – don't try to do it yourself.