Space Heater Safety Tips

Space heaters can boost home warmth, but they can cause fires if you aren't careful. Here are 10 space heater safety tips to keep you, your family and your home safe.

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A space heater can be an easy and effective way to warm your home, but space heaters come with some risks.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that space heaters are responsible for 43 percent of home house fires and 85 percent of home heating fire deaths.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the risk of a fire goes down substantially if you know the following 10 space heater safety tips. This video about space heaters will help, too:

Check the Space Heater’s Safety Certifications

Choose a space heater with a safety certification label from a respected independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or CSA Group.

Make Sure the Space Heater Has Safety Features

Choose a space heater that automatically shuts off when it starts to overheat or tips over.

Don’t Use Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips can overheat and cause a fire when connected to a space heater. Play it safe by plugging your space heater directly into a wall outlet.

Place the Space Heater Out of Harm’s Way

Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything flammable, such as curtains, rugs, beds and clothes. Also, avoid placing space heaters on carpet or in high-traffic areas where they could pose a tripping hazard.

Keep Kids and Pets Away From Space Heaters

Place space heaters where children and pets can’t get to them. Use a child- and pet-safe gate, if necessary.

Place Space Heaters on a Level Surface

Space heaters should be placed on flat, level floor surfaces to avoid dangerous tip-overs.

Don’t Hide Space Heater Cords

Running a space heater’s cord under a rug, carpet or piece of furniture poses a fire risk.

Turn Off Your Space Heater When You Can’t Monitor It

Power down your space heater before you go to sleep, move to a different room or are unable to keep an eye on it.

Pull the Plug on Too Hot Space Heaters

If your space heater or its power cord is hot to the touch, turn it off and unplug it ASAP. Don’t plug in the space heater again until you’ve had an appliance repair person check it out. Or, if you’ve had the space heater for a while, consider replacing it. Do not donate the over-heating space heater to a charity or put it outside for free.

Regularly Inspect Your Space Heater

Immediately replace any space heater with a cracked or frayed cord, damaged prongs or loose connections.

These tips should help prevent a space heater fire. Still, accidents happen, which is why it’s essential to install smoke alarms in your home and to test them often.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.