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Tips for Safely Using Electric Space Heaters

A lot of people use electric space heaters to try and keep a lid on heating costs during cold winter months, especially in older homes that may or may not have efficient furnaces. Space heaters can be a convenient and cost-effective way to temporarily heat a room or a small space, but if used improperly, space heaters can cause nasty burns or worse, create a fire hazard. Here are a few tips for making sure your plan to cut energy costs is a safe one:

  • Make sure that any space heater you buy carries the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Most will, but if you’re looking to buy a space heater on the cheap, you’ll need to double-check this.
  • When shopping for a space heater, consider models that come with an automatic shut-off feature and guards for the heating elements. The shut-off feature will come in handy and activate if the space heater gets tipped over or when the room reaches a certain temperature. Heating element guards will help protect you, your kids and pets from burns.
  • Even if your space heater comes with heating element guards, don’t leave children or pets alone in a room with an operating space heater. Curious little fingers and stray tails can still get burned.
  • First thing you need to do when you unbox your space heater is read all the instructions and safety materials that come with it.
  • When you’re locating your space heater, make sure to keep it at least three feet from any surfaces or materials that can burn easily.
  • Make sure you place your space heater on a level, hard, non-flammable surface. Don’t ever place it on rugs or carpets.
  • Frequently check your space heater for frayed cords or broken filaments. Both of these situations are unsafe and can lead to fire hazards.
  • Try to avoid extension cords when setting up your space heater and try to keep the heater’s power supply cord away from high-traffic areas so that people don’t trip over the cord.


Illinois Department of Public Health, Weathering Winter.

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