9 Safety Tips for Using a Space Heater

electric heaterSpace heaters are a great way to take the chill off a drafty room or cut down on your heating bills. However because they are electricity-powered, heat-generating objects, they have the potential to cause a fire or serious injury, especially if used improperly.

Here are 9 tips for using your space heater safely:


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1) NEVER use in wet or damp areas unless specifically intended for that purpose

This includes bathrooms, laundry rooms and the like. You can buy heaters which are intended for and safe for bathroom use, however most are not. There's a risk of short circuiting the heater and causing serious injury if water or dampness gets inside the it.

2) Avoid positioning near rugs, paper, clothing, curtains, or other flammable items

The heater should be 3 or more feet away from anything readily flammable in every direction. This is especially important if the heater does not have a "tipover switch."

3) Put the heater on a firm stable surface when in use

Never run your space heater on a bed, chair, carpeting or any other soft or uneven surface.

4) Never block the vents of the unit

Keep all vents and openings on the heater unblocked and clear of debris.

5) Avoid postioning the heater where it can be easily knocked over

Particularly important if the heater is not equipped with a tipover shutoff feature.

6) Avoid using near gasoline, paint or flammable liquids

Electric heaters can create sparks. Keep them far away from flammable liquids.

7) Always supervise small children and pets when the heater is on

Be sure to supervise pets and young children around your space heater when it's on, to keep them from knocking it over or burning themselves on it. Even "low surface temperature" heaters can cause a burn - better safe than sorry!

See our special tips for portable heater safety for pets (and kids)

8) Turn off the heater when not in use and unattended.

If you're not home, the safest thing to do shut the heater off and unplug it. This will also keep it from wasting electricity and inflating your electric bill.

And last, but not least ...

9) Read the owner's manual!

Every safety tip you need to know is in there, as well as operating tips and special quirks and precautions relevant to your product. Save it and keep it someplace where you can find it refer to it in the future. If it's online, bookmark it so you can find it quickly.