Are Space Heaters Safe?

Space heaters were responsible for 40 percent of home heating fires from 2009 to 2013, and 84 percent of residential heating fire deaths during this period. These statistics alone are enough to make you question the safety of space heaters. With such fires reported in the media, perhaps you’ve heard of a house fire caused by space heater use, and wonder if they are really safe?

The answer is yes, space heaters themselves are safe to use and must meet certain consumer safety standards. Safety issues arise when space heaters are not used properly or in a safe manner. The top causes of space heater fires are:

  1. Operating a space heater too close to flammable items
  2. Running space heaters unattended
  3. Operating a fuel-burning space heater with a dirty chimney
Are Space Heaters Safe?

There are two main types of space heaters: electric space heaters and fuel-burning space heaters. To operate your electric space heater safely and reduce your risk of danger, always follow the usage instructions below:

Keep the area surrounding your space heater clear at all times. The 3-foot radius around your space heater should be free of flammable items, such as curtains, blankets, papers, toys, and other materials.

Keep children away from space heaters. To avoid accidental burns or tipping the space heater over, keep children away from the space heater at all times. Create a child-free zone in the 3-foot area surrounding your space heater.

Never operate a space heater unattended. If a space heater is in operation, a responsible adult should always be present. Never leave a space heater running when the house is empty, or while you’re sleeping.

Use the space heater on a flat surface. Sitting a space heater on an uneven surface may cause it to tip over, and ignite nearby items.

Always plug your space heater into the wall socket. Do not operate a space heater with an extension cord. Extension cords are not meant to be permanent power solutions. They may overheat, or cause someone to trip, knocking over your space heater.

Purchase an electric space heater with added safety features. Models are available with automatic shutoff systems which will turn the unit off if tipped over.