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8 Space Heater Do’s and Don’ts

We’re in the dead of winter and it feels like there’s no end in sight! Good thing there are space heaters to warm up your toes no matter where you are—at the office or cozied up on the couch. According to the Missouri Department of Public Safety, 25,000 fires and over 300 deaths are attributed to space heaters each year. Follow these tips to stay safe and warm.

  1. Keep your heater on a solid, steady surface—away from high traffic areas. Think about what could potentially knock over your heater: An excited toddler? A dog’s tail? A distracted teenager? You’ll want to avoid those areas. Make sure that your model has a built-in safety shut off if it’s accidentally tipped over.
  2. Position the heater at least three feet away from objects. The heater should be pointed toward empty space, not furniture or people. Turn on the ceiling fan to help circulate the heat.
  3. Let pets and children enjoy the heat! But make sure the setting is on low. Young children and pets can’t always tell when enough is enough. There’s a burn risk associated with any heat source even if safety features are built in. If you have to place the heater on an elevated surface, make sure the cord is safely tucked away.
  4. Clean your space heater. Often, the space heater is placed on the floor where it’s exposed to dust, dander, and hair. Once accumulated, these elements will burn off, creating an unpleasant smell. Let the smell be a warning. If left uncleaned, the space heater quickly becomes a fire hazard. Follow your appliances instructions before cleaning.
  5. Turn off your space heater before bed. As tempting as it is to drift off to sleep with the warmth and comforting sound of the heater, a space heater is a heat source just like a fireplace. Even if you’ve followed all our safety recommendations, there is still a risk of fire.
  6. Don’t place the heater on high pile carpet or a shaggy rug. Dirt, dust, and hair is easily trapped in this flammable material. Keep it safe by placing the heater on short pile carpets, hardwood floors, or tile.
  7. Don’t allow the space heater to become wet. Maybe you’re thinking of plugging the heater in the bathroom to step out from the shower to a nice, hot room. Think again! The condensation that builds up on the mirror could also build up on the coils and internal mechanisms of the heater and cause damage.
  8. Don’t use an extension cord. Using an extension cord can overload the circuit or overheat the cord and cause an electrical fire. It’s not worth the risk just to have the heater closer to your toes.

Stay warm this winter, but be safe! A space heater is a comforting addition to your central heat but no matter where you use it, keep in mind these do’s and don’ts to avoid a costly and dangerous fire.