Safety Tips for Your Space Heater

space heater

space heater

Space heaters can be a convenient and effective way to heat a home, but they do come with significant risks. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, about 43 percent of house fires and 85 percent of fatalities from home heating happen because of space heaters. Fortunately, you can mitigate this risk by following some space heater safety tips.


  • Look for a space heater with a safety certification label. There are reputable organizations tasked with the independent testing of space heaters. Trust their judgment and look for certification from an organization like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek Group (ETL), or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).


  • Choose your space heater wisely. Modern space heaters come with a wide range of safety features to protect you, your home, and your family from harm. A heater with overheat protection will shut off if the internal components start to get too hot, reaching an unsafe temperature. By turning off, the unit prevents overheating and reduces the risk of an accidental house fire. Some heaters also have tip-over protection, shutting off if the unit is tipped over. There are also units with cool-touch housing to prevent accidental burns. Especially if you’ve got children or pets, this is an important feature.


  • Stay away from extension cords and power strips. Instead of using these items, which can increase the risk of overheating, electrical shock injuries, and fires, simply plug your heater directly into the wall. Make sure you choose a dedicated outlet, though, that isn’t being used by any other appliances.


  • Put your space heater in a safe place. The placement of your space heater is of great importance when it comes to keeping your home and family safe. Take the time to read your heater’s owner’s manual, then place it somewhere that it won’t be in the way. A good rule of thumb is to keep it at least three feet from flammable things like curtains, beds, and clothing. Never put a heater where it could be a tripping hazard, and keep your space heaters off of carpets. Avoid draping anything over the top of it, and don’t ever use it to dry clothing or towels.


  • Make sure kids and pets are out of harm’s way. Teach your children to avoid the space heater. At the same time, place it somewhere that’s difficult or impossible for them to reach. Putting the space heater behind a baby gate will go a long way toward protecting your children and pets.


  • Never put a space heater on an uneven surface. Placing a space heater on a flat, level surface is much safer because it reduces the risk of tip-overs.


  • Let your space heater cords show. It may be tempting to try to hide them, but putting space heater cords under carpeting, rugs, or furniture can create a fire hazard. Just leave them out in the open, where they won’t create a dangerous situation.


  • Watch out for water. Most space heaters should not be operated in a bathroom or a humid basement. Further, if you are wet or even have wet hands, you should not touch the space heater. Water and space heaters don’t typically mix, and you’ll increase your risk of electrical shock. On the other hand, there are some heaters specifically designed for use around water. They have GFCI (ACLI) plugs that allow you to use them in bathrooms. If you need a heater in the bathroom, make sure it’s a heater that’s bathroom safe.


  • Don’t leave a space heater turned on and unattended. If you’re not using the heater, turn it off and unplug it. Further, if you’re not in the same room as the space heater, at least be somewhere that allows you to keep an eye on it whenever it is running. Turn it off before you go to sleep, or find a model with a programmable timer that will allow it to turn off after you’ve gone to sleep or as you’re leaving for work.


  • Replace a space heater that’s getting too hot. If your space heater gets hot enough to be hot to the touch, turn it off and unplug it immediately. Call in an appliance repair person to inspect it before you plug it in again. If it’s an older heater, replace it, but don’t donate it to charity or give it away, because you’ll be putting someone else at risk.


  • Make a practice of inspecting your space heater regularly. Check it out right after you purchase it, to make sure it’s in good working order. After that, keep it clean and well maintained, frequently inspecting it to make sure it’s working the way it should. To clean it, shut it down, unplug it, and let it cool completely. Then wipe the exterior with a cloth or vacuum your heater to avoid stirring up dust and allergens. As you inspect it, look for cracked or frayed cords, prongs that look damaged, or loose connections. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to replace your space heater.


A space heater can be useful in a pinch, but when you’re ready to install or upgrade your heating system, it’s time to call contact Barstow and Sons for help. Full-service heating and cooling service company, we’ve been providing high-quality service to customers throughout Anne Arundel County, Severna Park, Pasadena, and Annapolis since 1980. We’ve built a reputation for our dedication to excellence, and we’re here for our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (410) 777-9148 to learn more or contact us through our website.