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Safety and Portable Space Heaters: What You Need to Know


Keeping your space warm is a priority. Keeping your home safe is a necessity. When using any electrical device in your home or apartment, there is an inherent risk if used improperly. Portable and electric space heaters are excellent at keeping your home cozy, whether it’s a chilly winter night or an early autumn cold snap. Today’s heaters include safety features and standards that ensure your space is both warm and safe. If you’re planning to use or buy a heater this season, make sure you follow these essential safety tips.

Check the Certification

Older heaters may have expired warranties, outdated safety features, or have been used long past their last certification inspection. New models are up-to-date with built-in technology to prevent accidents, and have passed rigorous safety inspections. Your heater should carry a label from a reputable safety consulting and certification company. Look for a label from  UL, ETL Listed Mark, or CSA Group. These groups perform comprehensive tests on products to guarantee safety requirements and standards.

Know the Safety Features

Invest in a heater that includes several safety features. Ceramic heaters, like the Motion Heat Plus – Whole Room Ceramic Heater and the Digital Ceramic Heater with Warm Air Motion Technology, contain a self-regulating ceramic element that will automatically activate a wattage reduction or completely cut off if the unit cannot run properly due to air blockage. Cool-touch exteriors prevent the device from getting too hot and accidentally causing burns. Some heaters have tip-over safety switches, which means that they shut off automatically if they are knocked over. Overheat protection prevents the device from getting too hot and causing a hazard. Know what safety features are in your heater when you make your purchase. (Lasko heaters list all safety features on each product for your convenience and peace of mind.)


Follow the Instructions

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) stresses the importance of reading  manufacturer’s instructions and any warning labels before first using a portable electric heater. Always plug your heater directly into a 120V wall outlet, and ensure that the heater’s plug fits tightly into the wall socket. Avoid using power strips, surge protectors, cord reels, or multiple outlet adaptors. Using any of these cord to connected devices with a heater can cause a safety hazard. Long cords across the floor are a hazard for tripping over as well! If the heater’s plug, cord, wall outlet or faceplate is unusually warm or hot, stop using the heater and call a qualified electrician or speak with the heater’s manufacturer.


Keep It in Sight

Do not leave heaters on unattended, even while you sleep. Try using a heater with a remote control, like the 30″ Digital Ceramic Pedestal Heater with Remote or a Bladeless Ceramic Heater, which allow you to turn off the heater before falling asleep without ever leaving the comfort of your bed. When using your heater around small children and pets, make sure that they are supervised. Tip-over safety switches can prevent a hazard, but still cause harm when landing. 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. Make sure the heater is on a level surface, and does not wobble or lean.

Keep It Clean

If your heater comes with cleaning instructions for the filter or the grill, be sure to follow them. Most heaters should be cleaned twice a month for optimal performance. Gently wipe the outer surface of your heater, and use the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean out the front and rear grills. In some cases, it may be necessary to use a can of compressed air to blow into the front of the heater so that any dust comes out of the back.

Keep It Clear

Even with myriad safety features, it’s important to keep combustible and flammable materials away from your heater. This includes paper, curtains, clothing, and other flammable items and materials. Keep a three-foot buffer zone around your heater so that nothing accidentally brushes or leans against it.

Keep It Dry

Electronics and water do not mix. Don’t forget to dry your hands before touching your heater, and keep your heater away from water. There are some heaters specifically designed to be used in bathrooms, like the Ceramic Bathroom Space Heater with Fan. Heaters that are not bathroom-friendly should be kept away from damp floors, laundry rooms, or similar indoor locations.


Whether you choose a Tower heater, a compact Tabletop heater, or any other size and shape space heater following these simple safety tips will keep you cozy and comfortable throughout the chilly months of the year. All portable electric space heaters should be used as a supplemental heat source, allowing you to lower the whole-house thermostat and save money by using the device in occupied rooms.

Know Your Space

Make sure your heater is appropriately sized for your space. Room heaters should not be used on a tabletop surface and can cause a fire and safety hazard. Tabletop heaters may not warm up an open-concept room, but are perfect for an enclosed office or bedroom. When using a supplemental heat source like a space heater, you are able to lower the whole-house thermostat and save money by using the device in occupied rooms. Make sure your heater is the right size for your space to ensure those savings.