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Space Heater Safety Tips

In order to save money in the colder months, many people opt to use a space heater to heat one room rather than heat the entire structure. Regardless of your plan, it is important to be cautious. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that more than 20,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of room (space) heaters.*

Space Heater Selection

Before purchasing a space heater, it is important to consider how it will be used. Will it be used for supplemental heat in colder rooms or other areas, or will it be used for emergency heat? As a general rule of thumb, electric space heaters are typically safer than portable fuel-burning models (e.g. natural gas, propane, kerosene.)

Remember to choose a unit that is listed or labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ETL (Intertek). This will ensure that the heater’s construction and performance meet voluntary safety standards.

Also, look for specific safety features that will shut the unit off under certain conditions. These can include:

  • Overheating
  • Low oxygen levels (aka oxygen depletion sensor)
  • Tip-over switch
  • Touch sensor (if the grill is touched)

Setup and Use

When setting up a space heater, remember to keep it at least 36 inches from any flammable or combustible materials and place it on the floor, unless it is designed otherwise.

Areas where space heaters are used should be free of flammable liquids. Do not put them on easily ignitable or combustible surfaces, such as rugs or carpets, or use them to dry wet clothing.

When using a fuel-fired space heater in an enclosed area, it is a good idea to leave a window or door partially open to allow for fresh air to enter. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) buildup or a depletion of oxygen. Never take a gas-fired or kerosene heater into a confined space as the results could be deadly. Read More

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