7 Ways to Use Space Heaters Safely

Sep 13, 2012

By Staff Writer State Farm™ Employee

Space heaters provide welcome warmth in chilly rooms, but that warmth comes with a big warning label: Each year space heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires and send 6,000 people to the ER for treatment of burns, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Help stay safe with these recommendations:

  1. Give the heater some space. Placing a combustible object too close to a heater is the leading cause of space heater fires. Allow at least three feet of open space on each side of the unit.

  2. Use wall plug-ins. To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.

  3. Opt for quality. When shopping for a space heater, select a unit that has all the latest safety features and the Underwriterís Laboratory (UL) label of approval. Look for cool-to-the-touch housings and automatic shutoff features that turn the unit off if itís tipped over or overheating. Some units will automatically shut off if their infrared sensors detect a person or object that is too close to the heater panelómaking them desirable choices for households with kids or pets.

  4. Never run a space heater in an unoccupied room. Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed, especially if young children or pets could come in contact with the device. Unplug the unit as an extra precaution.

  5. Size matters. Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.

  6. Keep electric heaters away from dampness. Operating units in wet areas such as bathrooms can cause electric shock. If you need additional heat in a damp location, purchase a heater specifically designed for this purpose.

  7. Safety first. Every room in which you plan to run a space heater should be outfitted with a smoke alarm. If youíre operating a gas space heater, also opt for a carbon monoxide alarm.

Learn more about safe space heater use from the U.S. Department of Energyís Energy Savers website.


The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.

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