Space heater safety

Make sure your space heater is UL-approved. Photo: David Sabatino

Make sure your space heater is UL-approved. Photo: David Sabatino

It’s that time of year again. Summer is over, and the cool winds of fall are here. Along with those cool winds comes the need for indoor heating. At times you may require additional heating to remain comfortable, and it’s during these times a space heater can be quite useful.

As long as you operate it safely, a space heater is a great addition to your home or workspace, and it can help save money on heating bills. We are here to offer a few safety tips to minimize space heater accidents.

  • Ensure your space heater is UL approved.
  • Purchase a space heater with tip protection and overheating protection.
  • Place the heater on a hard, level and nonflammable surface. It should sit on the floor, not on furniture or shelves.
  • Don’t unplug the space heater by the cord —use the plug. Unplug the heater when not in use, and check the cord for damage occasionally. Never operate the heater if the cord is frayed or worn.
  • Don’t use a heater with extension cords or power strips, as this can cause overheating.
Be sure to include filter changes as part of space heater maintenance. Photo: David Sabatino

Be sure to include filter changes as part of space heater maintenance. Photo: David Sabatino

  • Keep the space heater at least three feet away from combustible materials such as furniture, bedding and curtains. Also keep kids and pets at least three feet away as well, and never use one in a child’s room.
  • Don’t use a heater in a workshop or garage near flammable materials or chemicals.
  • Turn the heater off when it is unattended or when you go to bed.
  • Clean your space heater regularly, both internally and externally, following manufacturer recommendations. Be sure to include filter changes in the cleaning schedule.
  • Install working smoke alarms on every level of your home, and test them monthly.

David Sabatino is a firefighter in the Fermilab Fire Department.