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Safety and portable space heaters: What you need to know


Space heaters are excellent at keeping a space warm, whether on a chilly winter night up north or during an early autumn cold snap. But one of the most important considerations with portable space heaters is safety.

If you’re planning to buy a space heater, be certain you follow these essential safety tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.

• Stick to new models of heaters that are up-to-date with the latest safety features. The heater should also carry a label from either UL, ETL, or CSA, safety consulting and certification companies.

• Choose a heater that’s an appropriate size for the room you intend to use it in. The DOE reported that most space heaters come with a general sizing table that will help you determine whether a unit is a good fit for a room.

• Keep the heater on a level surface where it can’t tip over.

• Invest in a heater with safety features such as automatic overheat protection, cool touch exterior, a self-regulating ceramic element, or a tip-over safety switch.

• Read manufacturer’s instructions and any warning labels before first using it.

• Do not leave heaters unattended–even while you sleep.

• According to the CPSC, combustible material, like paper, curtains, clothing and other flammable items, should be kept at least three feet from the heater at all times.

• It’s very important to ensure that the heater’s plug fits tightly into the wall socket, as loose plugs can lead to electrical problems and heater malfunctions.

• Do not run the heater’s cord under carpeting or rugs, as this can gradually wear down the cord and potentially lead to a fire hazard.

• If the heater’s plug, cord, wall outlet or face plate is unusually warm or hot, stop using the heater and call a qualified electrician or speak with the heater’s manufacturer.

• Never use extension cords or power strips with heaters. Units should be plugged directly into wall sockets.

• Keep electric heaters away from water and avoid touching them with wet hands.

• Only use space heaters on tabletops when specified by the unit’s manufacturer.

• Heaters should be kept away from pets and children, especially without adult supervision.

Space heaters are great appliances to have around to quickly take the chill out of a room, but they require some basic vigilance and smart use. Get a heater that fits with your home and lifestyle.

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