Safety Tips for Using Space Heaters

Space heater

Using Space Heaters? Take This Safety Advice.

Space heaters are popular among homeowners because, as portable appliances, they can heat a small space quickly and inexpensively. It requires less energy to run a space heater than to raise the temperature of an entire home by a few degrees.

Space heaters can be dangerous!

If not used properly, space heaters pose significant fire and electric shock hazards. In a recent report, the National Fire Protection Association reveals that heating equipment was involved in an estimated 65,000 home structure fires.

Space heaters caused a major percentage of the accidents :

  • 79% of all home heating-related civilian deaths
  • 66% of all home heating-related civilian injuries
  • 52% of all home heating-related property damage

If you use a space heater, please remember to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage, and to obey basic safety standards.

  • Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels. Get a space heater that allows you to adjust the temperature.

    Man adjusts the temperature of the electric fan heater at home.

    Man adjusting the temperature of the electric fan heater at home.

  • Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If damaged, do not use the heater.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep.
  • Don’t let children or pets play too close to a space heater.
  • Place the heater at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing, and rugs. Space heaters get very hot, very quickly, and can ignite rugs, paper, and curtains.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or books.
  • Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may be a tripping hazard.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip; it could overheat and cause a fire.
  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
  • Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing, or thaw pipes. They are not meant to replace whole-home heating and should not be left unattended under any circumstance.

What type of space heater should you get?

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of an independent testing laboratory
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection
  • Make sure it has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.


Safety in the home is not accidental. Protect yourself, your loved ones, your home, and your belongings, by following simple safety precautions every single day. Stay warm. Stay Safe.

National Fire Protection Association has a tip sheet for you.

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