Space heaters: Play it safe

Space heaters can work wonders on the coldest winter days to warm rooms that your central heating system doesn’t keep comfortable. But while manufacturers have worked to build more safety features into this alternative heating source, users still should take precautions to ensure these cozy heaters don’t become fire hazards.

            Space heaters are designed as a supplemental source of heat, not as the main source. So you shouldn’t use them constantly, especially in rooms that you don’t use much. Check your space heaters for a UL seal, and follow these guidelines for safely using them:

  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from drapes and furniture that could catch fire.
  • Don’t use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary.
  • Inspect the heater’s cord periodically for frayed wires or damaged insulation. Don’t use a space heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug gets hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified electrician. This could be the sign of a home wiring issue.
  • Place your heater on a flat, level surface. Don’t place heaters on furniture, as they may fall and break or even start a fire.
  • Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, don’t use it in wet areas.