Do's and Don'ts of Space Heaters

When you cannot escape the cold in your own home during the winter, you may turn to supplemental heating equipment such as a portable space heater for additional warmth. However, space heaters can be dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a third of home heating fires are caused by space heaters. Follow these do’s and don’ts to use your space heater safely and reduce your fire risk.

The Do's:

  • Keep any flammable items at least 1 metre away from space heaters. This includes clothing, drapes, upholstered furniture and bedding.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns.
  • Purchase a space heater with a safety mark that signifies that the product was tested for potential safety hazards. Also look for units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep space heaters away from water.
  • Place space heaters on hard, level surfaces away from walking areas.

The Don'ts:

  • Use space heaters to warm bedding, thaw pipes or dry clothing. Misusing a space heater can increase fire and burn risks.
  • Use a space heater that has frayed insulation, broken wires or signs of overheating. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately.
  • Plug a heater in using an extension cord. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
  • Use a heater near a sink or in the bathroom.

Space heaters are meant for temporary use and should not be used for extended periods, such as overnight. Every year people lose their homes to fires started by dangerous space heater use—don’t let it happen to you.

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