Space Heater Safety

Posted: January 1, 2023 at 7:00 am

As we experience extremely cold weather, some of us rely on space heaters for the extra heat we need in a cold area of our home or office. A recent 4‐year study found heating equipment, such as space heaters, fireplaces, and wood‐burning stoves, is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. Heating equipment caused 1 in 7 home fires and 19% of home fire deaths. Most home heating fire deaths (81%) included stationary or portable space heaters. This was caused by placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding. Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January, and February.

Follow these tips to use space heaters safely:

  • Read all instructions and use space heaters only as recommended
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended
  • Plug heaters directly into an outlet; most power strips and extension cords are not equipped to handle energy spikes caused by space heaters cycling on and off
  • Unplug any other items from the outlet you are using and try to use a dedicated circuit to avoid overload
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters
  • Turn the heaters off before you leave the room or go to sleep
  • Do not use heaters that are in disrepair or have frayed cords or damaged plugs
  • Place them on flat, level surfaces and never on furniture, counters, or carpet, which can overheat
  • Unplug and put space heaters away (out of the reach of children) when not in use

Sources: Safe Electricity and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).