Space heater safety is important to consider in the winter months. Since many people turn to space heaters to keep their homes and offices warm, space heater safety tips can help prevent a major catastrophe. While opting to use a space heater may be a cost-saving option, it can also be dangerous if you don’t take the right safety precautions. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 20,000 residential fires are linked to the use of space heaters every year.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps you should take to ensure space heater safety. Protect yourself and your loved ones while also staying warm with these simple steps.

Choose the Right Space Heater

When it comes to space heater safety, the first step is being sure you choose the right space heater for your space. Consider how the space heater will be used. Will it be used regularly to supplement heat in colder rooms? Will it be used only in emergency situations as a temporary heating solution? Although electric space heaters are a safer option than portable fuel-burning options that use natural gas, propane, and kerosene, it’s still important to carefully consider your options.

Choose a space heater that is labeled or nationally recognized as a safe option. This will ensure that you choose an option that meets the voluntary space heater safety standards set in place. Consider looking for units with safety features. These can include units with the following:

  • shut off before overheating
  • oxygen depletion sensors
  • tip-over switches
  • touch sensor

Proper Setup and Use for Space Heater Safety

In addition to choosing the right space heater, you need to be sure you set it up and use it the right way. When setting up a space heater, be sure it is at least 36 inches away from anything flammable. Remove all combustible materials from the area. Unless designed otherwise, always place space heaters on the floor. Never place them elevated where they can fall over and cause a fire.

A major space heater safety consideration is to place them in an area free of flammable liquids. Do not put space heaters anywhere close to items that are easily ignitable or have combustible surfaces, this would include rugs or carpets. Never use space heaters to dry wet clothing.

If you do end up choosing a fuel-fired space heater, be sure to leave a window or door partially opened to allow for fresh air to enter. Never keep space heaters in an enclosed area without proper ventilation. An important element of space heater safety is to use carbon monoxide detectors to avoid buildup or oxygen depletion. Using a gas-fired or kerosene heater in any confined space that is not properly ventilated can be deadly.

When it comes to natural gas or propane-fired space heater safety, remember the following tips:

  • If you smell gas, do not attempt to light the heater. Turn of all controls, open the windows and doors and leave the area. Contact emergency personnel immediately.
  • Remember that propane does not dissipate rapidly. If you smell gas, do not touch any electrical switches. Avoid using any electrical appliances. Do not smoke or use any sparks that could ignite the gas. Before you re-enter the space, be sure it is clearly by an emergency professional.

Always keep space heaters away from wet or moist areas. Any contact with water could lead to electric shock or a fire. Avoid using any type of extension cord when plugging in your space heater. Extension cords and improper plugs can lead to overheating and eventually fire. Finally, space heater safety requires regular cleaning and maintenance of your heater.

Add Safety Precautions by Equipping Your Home or Business with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It should be no surprise that your home or business should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. To increase space heater safety precautions, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition. Regularly change batteries. Smoke detectors can be a fast way to detect smoke and alarm occupants to get out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to any potentially hazardous gases that may be odorless and colorless.

Space heaters are an effective and cost-efficient way to heat home or office spaces. Before you equip your home or office, be sure you follow proper space heater safety precautions to avoid an unnecessary emergency. Winter can be a difficult time of year. Follow additional steps to ensure winter hazard safety.