Space Heater Safety 101

Brr! Things are getting chilly around these parts, which means many of you might be turning to electric space heaters to bring a little extra warmth to rooms where your central heat just isn’t cutting it.

When used safely, space heaters can be an economical way to heat up a particular room or area—you’ll save money if you’re only heating rooms that are occupied!

If you’re plugging one in on a cold January evening, keep these important safety tips in mind to protect you and your family.

1) Check your smoke alarm batteries.

Most modern electric space heaters come with built-in safety features designed to protect you from fires, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your smoke alarms are functioning properly this time of year just in case. Better yet, invest in a 10-year smoke detector with a lithium battery that you won’t have to replace (for a decade, anyway). That’s one less chore to worry about!

2) Toss Grandma’s vintage model.

That hand-me-down space heater is more of a hazard than an heirloom. Look for newer models with current safety features, and look for a label showing that the model is listed by a recognized testing laboratory (like Underwriters Laboratory). Likewise, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels, and don’t use the heater if any of its parts or cords are cracked, broken or loose.

3) Follow the 3-foot rule.

If it can burn or be burned, keep it a minimum of three feet away from your space heater. That includes furniture, pets, children–you name it.

4) Don’t leave your space heater unsupervised.

It might be tempting to leave your space heater running at night—after all, it was tested by a testing laboratory, right? Resist the urge. When you leave a room or turn in for the evening, make sure you unplug. Even the safest heater in the world can become dangerous if left unattended.

5) Put down the extension cord.

Electric space heaters are the safest when they are plugged directly into a wall outlet. Most manufacturers will specify in their instructions and on warning labels that you should never use an extension cord—it could overheat and cause a fire.

6) Think twice about where you put your heater.

Put your space heater on a level and flat surface. Don’t put it in high-traffic areas where people are more likely to trip on it or bump into it. And don’t put it on furniture or carpet—that’s also a fire hazard.

It’s freezing out there, so bundle up, stay warm, and use those space heaters safely! If you need a new one, come to Dot’s Ace Hardware and talk to our friendly associates about which model is right for you, or enjoy FREE site-to-store shipping from!

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