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Stay Safe with Space Heaters


For some of us, the onset of colder weather means heating our homes or work areas with temporary heaters. When used correctly, these heaters can make the working environment much more comfortable. However, when used incorrectly, they present a significant risk of fire or even explosion.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires from December through February, and the second leading cause of home fires year-round. Keep the following safety precautions in mind when using such equipment, like space heaters:

  • Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, thaw pipes or dry clothing.
  • Select space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark.
  • Purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep any items that could potentially be a source of fire at least 3 feet away from a space heater.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns. 
  • Check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating on electrical space heaters. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately.
  • Use only fuel recommended by the manufacturer for liquid-fueled space heaters.
  • Turn off the heater and let it cool before refueling.
  • Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater. 

Safety First
Heaters are primarily used seasonally and are often stored for long periods of time between uses. Prior to its use, inspect the equipment. It may be damaged from being hauled from one location to another. It is critical that each heater is examined for signs of damage before operation and is watched closely during initial operation to ensure that it functions properly.

Another safety precaution is to make sure the heater is approved for the environment in which you plan to use it. For example, is the unit approved for direct contact with wood floors? Does it consume oxygen? Does it radiate heat or force heated air across the room? The manufacturer’s specifications will explain how and where the heater may be safely used.

Avoid placing space heaters in high-traffic areas of your home. Units with long cords can present a tripping hazard.


This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice.