If used properly, space heaters can provide temporary relief during a cold spell, but they should not be considered a permanent solution to a home heating problem. They're too dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that every year space heaters are associated with more than 25,000 residential fires and 300 fatalities.
To minimize the risk of fire while using a space heater, read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions.
Space Heater Safety Tips
- Buy a space heater that has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
- Keep all furniture and combustible items at least three feet away from any heating device.
- Never use space heaters to dry clothing, towels or other combustibles.
- Never refill a fuel-burning space heater while it's on or inside your house.
- Space heaters should not be left on while you are asleep or leave the room.
- When not in use, space heaters should be unplugged.
- Do not connect a space heater to an outlet with an extension cord, and never overload the circuit.
- Never use a space heater with a damaged or frayed cord, and never cover the cord with carpeting or furniture.
- Be sure your space heater is in good working condition and that the heating element is protected by a metal guard.
- Keep young children away from space heaters.
- Avoid using electric space heaters in a bathroom, and never touch an electric heater when you are wet.
- Make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working before using a space heater.
- Check the cord on an electric space heater to determine if it is very warm or hot. If so, unplug it immediately and try another outlet. If it continues to be hot, contact an electrician.