Learning Center

Use Caution with Space Heaters

space heater

Auxiliary heating devices require special attention to safety.

On cold winter days it’s tempting to use an auxiliary heat source to ward off the season’s chill. But while they offer a great way to help stay comfortable, use caution. Any auxiliary heater, if not used properly, can cause burns and fires or produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home heating and cooling equipment, including portable space heaters, is a top cause of fire deaths.

When using any auxiliary heating device, keep kids, pets and combustibles at least three feet away.

Here are some safety tips for different types of heaters:

Electric space heaters

  • Turn space heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Only use heaters that shut off automatically if tipped over.
  • Place heaters on a solid, flat, non-combustible surface.
  • Never use extension cords.
  • Replace cracked or damaged plugs or power cords.

Fuel-burning heaters

  • Only use the fuel specified by the manufacturer.
  • Only use heaters with an emergency shut off.
  • Do not use on rugs or carpets.
  • Only use heaters designed for indoors.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's directions for proper use, and have heaters inspected annually.
  • Only use heaters with oxygen sensors.

Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces

  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood to avoid dangerous creosote buildup in your chimney.
  • Never use flammable liquids such as kerosene or lighter fluid to start a fire.
  • Have a thick mesh screen in front to reduce the chance of embers getting out.
  • Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container kept at least 10 feet from your home.
  • Clean and inspect chimneys annually.

When using any source of auxiliary heat, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines. With care and safety, you’ll get years of extra warmth from your heater.

No matter what kind of auxiliary heater you use, play it safe.

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