According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment, such as space heaters, is the leading cause of home fires from December through February, and the second-leading cause of home fires year-round. If you plan on using a space heater for some additional warmth this winter, keep the following safety precautions in mind.
Space Heater Safety Tips
- Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, thaw pipes or dry clothing. Misusing a space heater can increase fire and burn risks, and put you and your family in danger.
- Select space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark. The UL mark signifies that the product was tested for potential safety hazards. Also, purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
- Keep any items that could potentially be a source of fire at least 3 feet away from a space heater. This includes clothing, drapes and bedding.
- Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns.
- Check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating on electrical space heaters. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately.
- Use only fuel recommended by the manufacturer for liquid-fueled space heaters. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment can handle and could cause a fire. Also, turn off the heater and let it cool before refueling.
- Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
- Avoid placing space heaters in high-traffic areas of your home. Units with long cords can present a tripping hazard.
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