Fire Safety: Portable Heater Safety Tips

Safety is a top consideration with portable or space heaters in your home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

When purchasing and using a space heater, remember to follow these guidelines:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Do not purchase an oversized heater for the size of the room you plan to use it in. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from anything flammable, including beds, clothing, furniture, curtains, or other materials.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface with a low center of gravity and a well ventilated area.
  • Purchase a heater with an auto shut-off feature and tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
  • Keep the heater out of the way of foot traffic and be sure to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • NEVER plug a heater into an extension cord or surge protector. Plug it directly into the wall outlet.
  • Always turn off and unplug a space heater when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Never use a heater in a wet area.


Information provided by the U.S. Department of Energy
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