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Space Heater Safety Protects Your Home, Family

House fires are most frequently caused by cooking, smoking and heating equipment, with cooking being the leading cause of house fires. During cold weather, however, the use of space heaters quickly rises to among the top causes of house fires and related injuries. Statistically, some 60,000 or more house fires are caused by heating equipment annually. When space heaters are involved, it is frequently because the user has made bad decisions about the location of the unit or how it is being used.

The key to keeping your home and family safe is following instructions and directing all family members to use care when operating a space heater. Space heaters should be equipped with safety features that prevent them from overheating or tipping over, but common-sense safe practices are crucial to preventing tragic accidents, including fire damage, smoke damage, or worse.

Safety features

  • Your space heater should be labeled as being fully tested by a certified laboratory, such as NRTL, CSA, UL or ETL.
  • The cord on your space heater should be grounded and able to be plugged directly into a wall outlet.
  • Tip-over protection should automatically shut your space heater off in the event it is knocked over.
  • Your space heater should be equipped with a sensor that shuts down the unit if the internal components become overheated.
  • Newer space heaters are designed with cool-touch housing to prevent burns if you come in contact with the unit.
  • An older space heater that does not exhibit a label from a recognized testing laboratory, appears worn, or does not have an automatic shut-off feature should not be used.

Proper usage

  • Read instructions and warnings before using a space heater.
  • Choose a space heater that is the right size for the space you are heating to avoid overtaxing the unit.
  • Use your space heater as supplemental heat, not as a main heat source or to dry clothing or thaw pipes.
  • Place your space heater at least three feet from combustibles, including paper, curtains and rugs, and away from high traffic areas.
  • Position space heaters on flat, level surfaces that are floor level, not elevated.
  • Do not attempt to heat wet or humid spaces, such as bathrooms or damp basements.

Safety tips

  • Inspect your space heater regularly for cracks, loose connections and frayed cords.
  • Never use an extension cord or power strip to power a space heater. Plug the space heater directly into the wall in a grounded outlet dedicated for the unit alone.
  • Always unplug your space heater when it is not in use.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended in any room or at night.
  • Do not place or drape any item on a space heater.
  • Keep children, pets and toys away from your space heater.

Space heaters can be extremely helpful for families during especially cold days. Used properly, they can save you money on heating by keeping the room in which you spend the most time comfortable without overheating the entire house. But even when precautions are taken, accidents can happen, and your home can be damaged by fire, smoke or water.

At ServiceMaster Restoration, we encourage educating family members on the proper use of space heaters and be sure to check that you have a working smoke detector with fresh batteries in your home.

Contact our team for space heater safety suggestions or for help in the event of a house fire, smoke damage, or any emergency needing restoration services. We provide 24/7 emergency service for fire, smoke, water or storm damage with full clean up and restoration.