Space Heater Safety
Space heaters can be a great way to reduce the heating bill and still stay cozy. However, space heaters can be dangerous when used improperly. Each year, space heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires.
To avoid a fire while using your space heater, follow these tips:
- Give your heater ample space. When using a space heater there needs to be three feet of space around it at all times. If something combustible is placed near it, there’s a good chance it could catch fire.
- Plug your space heater directly into your wall outlet. Space heaters need to be plugged into a wall outlet and nothing else. Extension cords or multi-outlet strips are dangerous to use with space heaters.
- Don't leave space heaters unattended. When leaving or going to bed, the space heater needs to be turned off. It’s best to also unplug the unit.
- Don't use in damp areas. Places that have a lot of water nearby such as bathrooms, should not be heated with space heaters. Water or dampness could cause electric shock. Heaters designed specifically for use in bathrooms should be used in these areas.
- Choose a high quality product. Get a space heater that has safety features and a UL label of approval. These often have automatic shut off features in case the heater falls over, which is important for those who have children or pets who could accidentally bump the heater.
- Choose the right size for your needs. Space heaters are not one size fits all. The label should tell if it is the right size for the room homeowners are planning to heat.
- Check your smoke detector. Before using a space heater, make sure all smoke detectors are in working order. Ideally there should be one in the room where the space heater is being used. If the space heater is gas-operated, it is also important to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
Staying warm during the winter is important, but so is safety. Follow the tips listed above and any instructions that come with the space heater.