How To Use A Space Heater Safely

Space heaters offer additional warmth in drafty spaces or cold home offices, but carry inherent safety risks. On average, they cause 1,700 house fires yearly, leading to approximately 80 deaths, as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Prioritizing safety is crucial when using a space heater for extra warmth. Here are tips for safe operation and key safety features to consider when selecting a space heater. Our space heater ratings assess safety measures such as its potential to ignite nearby materials, surface heat that may cause burns, and the presence of a tip-over switch that shuts off the heater when knocked over. 


During December, January, and February, half of all home heating fires occur, often due to heaters, especially electric ones, being placed too near curtains, bedding, or upholstered furniture. To prevent such incidents, our experts, alongside the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and the National Fire Protection Agency, provide these safety tips:


  1. The heater should be on a level, non-flammable surface. Space heaters are intended to sit on the floor, not on a table or other raised surface. 
  2. Establish a 3-foot kid & pet-free zone around the space heart. Never put a space heater in a child’s room. 
  3. Establish a 3-foot distance away from combustible materials, such as furniture, bedding, and curtains. (Note: if the heater is taller, it may need to be further away)
  4. Don’t use a space heater in a workshop or garage near paint, gas cans, matches, or other flammable substances.
  5. Turn off the space heater when you leave the room or go to bed. 
  6. When the space heater is not in use, unplug it by pulling it straight from the outlet. (Tip: Check the cord for damage periodically, and don’t use the heater if the cord is worn)


Space heaters can provide warmth in rooms, but pose fire hazards. Knowing space heater safety is a critical aspect of ensuring your home doesn’t face fire damage.