Space Heater Safety Tips - NYCM Insurance Blog

Find an Agent

Home Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Oct 13, 2023

Space Heater Safety Tips

How to Use a Space Heater Responsibly

When the temperature cools down toward the year’s end, that chill can make its way into your home. One popular way of supplementing the heat in your house in the winter is with portable electric space heaters. And while space heaters can be an effective way of helping to heat a small space, they can also bring about their own risks to the safety of you and your property.


In January 2021, the National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA) published a report on Home Heating Fires that found that 81 percent of home heating fire deaths involved stationary or portable space heaters. If you are planning on using a space heater this winter, it’s important to be aware of the various risks involved and the safety precautions you can take to try to mitigate them. Continue reading to learn important safety tips when using a portable space heater.

Find the right location for your space heater, away from hazards


Perhaps the most important safety tip to remember when using portable space heaters is to make sure it is not being used in close proximity to anything that can burn. As space heaters warm up, they can ignite nearby items, like blankets, curtains, drapes, and anything that is not intended to withstand high temperatures.


According to the NFPA’s Home Heating Fires report, “Over half (54 percent) of the home heating fire deaths were caused by having heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.”


Indeed, space heaters reach temperatures that can be hazardous to flammable material. Always be mindful of your space heater’s location relative to things that can burn—the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends keeping your heater three feet away from anything flammable.


You should also make sure to position your space heater on flat ground and out of the way of any foot traffic. It’s important that your heater remains stable on the ground to reduce the risk of accidents and damages.


Never leave a space heater running overnight or unattended


When you leave a room or go to bed for the night, always turn off and unplug your space heater to prevent it from continuing to run and overheating. Some space heaters are manufactured with a protection mechanism to prevent overheating or an auto-off mode in the event it falls over. But remember that these are supplemental resources intended as a last line of defense. You still need to do your due diligence and ensure it does not run for too long.

Safety Pro-Tip: When powering your space heater, be sure to plug it directly into the wall. Never use an extension cord or power strip—a space heater can draw a significant amount of energy, and extension cords and power strips are not built to handle the transfer.


Know your space heater


Get familiar with your model of space heater and its method for producing heat. A few kinds of portable electric space heaters include fan-forced heaters, oil/water-filled radiators, ceramic heaters, and infrared heaters. Read the manual to learn the ins and outs of your space heater and regularly inspect it for damage.


To do this, inspect your space heater while it is unplugged and off, looking for any deformations, discolorations, and making sure the cord and wiring is intact and unharmed. If a space heater appears damaged, it may be at risk of malfunctioning and producing a fire.


Using a space heater can be an easy way to make yourself a little more comfortable in the cold months, but they must be used responsibly to avoid the disastrous outcome of a house fire. Click below to read our guide to fire extinguisher safety so that you are prepared to act if a small fire starts in your home!