Make Space for Your Space Heaters: 5 Tips for Space Heather Safety

Woman using her phone while sitting next to a space heater at home.

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Space heaters can provide warmth and comfort during the cold winter months. But they can also be a serious safety hazard. In fact, space heaters are the source of 1,700 house fires and over 80 deaths per year in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Although space heaters have come a long way in terms of safety over the years, accidents can still happen — and house fires can spread rapidly, putting your loved ones, including pets, in grave danger.

We’re here with 5 expert tips to keep you and your family safe and warm this winter when it comes to space heater usage.

  1. Maintain a 3-Foot Distance Around Your Space Heater

Most modern space heaters are equipped with a long enough cord to be safely placed away from walls and other flammable materials. The obvious suspects are curtains, drapes, furniture, blankets and bedding.

Beware those stacks of paper in your office, toilet paper in your bathroom and paint cans in your garage also are highly flammable and dangerous.

BONUS TIP: For optimal safety, plug your space heater directly into a wall outlet, not using a surge protector or extension cord.

  1. Always Place Your Space Heater on the Floor

You may be tempted to place your space heater on top of something to allow for direct heat. However, doing this increases the risk of the space heater tipping over, igniting a fire or hurting someone from the impact. Investing in an angled space heater allows you to stay safe, and warm, at the same time.

  1. Unplug or Turn Off Your Space Heater When It’s Not in Use

When purchasing a space heater, consider models with an automatic shut off or timer. However, even if your heater has this feature, it’s still a good idea to get into the habit of unplugging or turning it off when not in use. Also, always check for a UL safety certification on the device. This ensures that your space heater has undergone rigorous safety checks and testing.

  1. Install and Validate Working Smoke Detectors

Now is a great time to run a battery test on all smoke detectors in your home, as well as take an inventory of where you may need more. If you have a space heater in a child’s room, basement, living room or office, make sure there’s both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector installed in that location.

  1. Never Allow Children or Pets Close to a Space Heater

Although children and pets may intuitively know to stay away from heat, their curiosity may get the best of them. And the plug can cause an electric shock. Space heaters can also get tipped over when children and pets are playing, as well as cause burns, start a fire or injure them from the impact.

Beginning at a young age, teach children the dangers of getting too close to a space heater so they know to stay away. And ensure your little ones understand the rule that only adults can plug and unplug space heaters and adjust the temperature.

Steps for a Space Heater Emergency

Space heaters are meant to be a supplemental, not primary, source of heat. Be mindful of the number of space heaters you use in your home. You increase safety risks — for you and everyone in your household — the more high-heat electrical objects you have plugged into walls.

If anything in your house catches on fire, dial 911 and get everyone out immediately. If you experience a burn, electrical shock or any injury from a space heater, dial 911 right away or visit one of our 95 emergency room locations.

At AdventHealth, our mission is to keep you and your family safe through skilled and compassionate care.

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