Space heaters are an easy and affordable way to provide secondary heat to a home or business. However, it’s important to note that there are inherent dangers associated with operating space heaters, and they shouldn’t be used as a primary source of heat. Because so many people are beginning to use space heaters, we’ve created a list of space heater safety tips to help keep you safe.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 25,000 residential fires occur in the United States every year because of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths and an estimated 6,000 emergency room visits associated with burn injuries.

Because space heaters are used so frequently, the heating and cooling technicians at Rusk have space heater safety tips so you properly use a heater. Follow these space heater safety tips to keep your home warm and prevent your family from being in any danger.

Space Heater Safety Tips for Your Cincinnati Home

Keep your space heater clean

The buildup of dust, dirt, and debris on heating equipment increases your risk for a house fire. Clean your space heater regularly. Most newer space heaters come with filters that should be cleaned at least once per year. You can rinse the filter in water and air dry it before reinstalling it into the unit.

Never use an extension cord or power strip

The heating elements within space heaters can warm up to 600 degrees and should not ever be plugged directly into the wall to prevent a fire. Don’t use extension cords or power strips, either, as they can overheat, causing the unit to short circuit which can potentially lead to a fire. Err on the side of caution by not plugging anything else directly into the wall outlet other than the electric space heater.

Only buy high-quality equipment

It’s important that your electric space heater has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label of approval as well as top-of-the-line safety features. Things to look for include automatic shutoff safety features and infrared sensors.

Never leave a space heater running in an unoccupied room

Be sure to turn your equipment off before leaving the room or going to bed. In fact, you should unplug it just to be sure. Space heaters are fine to heat occupied rooms but should not be left unattended because of the inherent dangers they can cause.

Keep it off carpet

Try to keep space heaters off of carpets and area rugs, and, instead, only use them on hard services such as wood, laminate, or tile. Carpets can overheat and start a fire.

Don’t leave pets alone with space heaters

Curious cats and dogs may be attracted to the warmth provided by space heaters, but don’t leave them alone in a room with the heater. Your furry friend may accidentally burn themselves if they get too close, or they could even accidentally knock over the space heater.

Install and test smoke alarms

Make sure there’s a smoke alarm in each room you plan to use a space heater in. If your space heater is gas-powered, pick up a carbon monoxide alarm as well.

Keep all cords exposed

It may not look pretty, but it’s important not to hide cords beneath rugs and carpets. Cords and plugs generate heat and could be prone to fraying, so don’t bury them in an effort to keep things looking clean.

Don’t leave your space heater on furniture

Keep space heaters on the floor at all times. If you place them on a desk or dresser, you’ll increase the risk that a pet or person could bump into the furniture, causing the space heater to fall to the ground.

Don’t run your space heater at night

It is not a good idea to run your space heater at night. If the unit overheats, short circuits or is knocked over, a fire could break out.

Clear space around the heater

Finally, it’s important to maintain at least three feet of space around the space heater at all times. Items that can burn – such as bedding, pillows, curtains, and clothes – should be at least three feet away from the unit, as they can create a fire hazard. Space heater fires are most commonly caused by coming into contact with fabric.

Contact Rusk for Your Heating and Cooling Needs

If you follow these space heater safety tips, you can make use of a space heater on the coldest days of winter to supply some supplemental heat. Just make sure that electric heaters are not your primary source of heat. If you’re unsure about the safety of your heating system, contact Rusk Heating & Cooling for an inspection today.