Stay Warm Safely: Space Heater Safety

The weather outside is frightful, but the warmth of that space heater is sure delightful!

Portable space heaters are a great way to stay cozy and warm in chilly winter weather, but they can also pose a danger to your home. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, these space heaters are responsible for an average of 1,700 house fires yearly, which is about 43% of all house fires. Keeping your property and family safe from these fires is easy, if you use space heaters safely:

  • When placing or moving your space heater, remember that these appliances are intended to sit on a hard, level, nonflammable surface, like the floor rather than a table, counter, or shelf.
  • Don’t plug another electrical device or extension cord into the same outlet as a heater to keep the outlet from overheating.
  • The heater should be at least 3 feet away from anything combustible like furniture, bedding, curtains, etc. If your space heater is taller, it may have to be even farther away.
  • Establish a 3-foot zone around the heater that your pets and children cannot access.
  • Never place a space heater in a child’s room–your child could play with it, knock it over, or leave flammable toys too close to it.
  • Never use a space heater in a workshop or garage near paint, gas cans, matches, or other flammable materials.
  • When not in use or when you go to bed, turn it off and unplug it from the outlet
  • Check the space heater’s cord periodically for damage, wear, and tear.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home and in every bedroom, and test them monthly.

If you’re looking for a new space heater, there are plenty of options on the market. However, when you’re looking, keep an eye out for these safety features for your peace of mind:

GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) Plug: Many space heaters don’t come with a GFCI plug, which prevents electric shock. Heaters with one will be safer and give you more peace of mind, while heaters without one are more likely to spark or shock, and should not be used around water.

A good cord: You’ll want to find a space heater with a long and sturdy cord. Because you can’t use extension cords with space heaters, you want a cord that’s long enough (6 feet or more) to maintain a 3-foot radius while also being able to be placed where you like.

Certification: Any heater you buy should carry a safety certification label from an independent testing organization, like the UL mark, the ETL label from Intertek, or a certification from CSA International.

Shutoff features: Some newer space heater models come with smart sensors that automatically shut off when it overheats or a tip-over switch that automatically shuts off the heater if it’s knocked over. These features are absolutely essential in making sure you are as safe as possible.

So while you’re staying warm this winter, also stay safe with these tips and these safety features!

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