Six Safety Tips for Using a Space Heater

Couple sitting on couch with blanket and coffee cups

FEBRUARY 12, 2018

Space heaters can be a handy tool to bring an extra bit of warmth into your home — even if your furnace is working. However, portable electric heaters can be dangerous if not handled appropriately. If you plan on using one to help make your bedroom or living room extra toasty in the winter, please keep the following space heater safety tips in mind.

Only Use Electric Space Heaters Inside

You should only use an electric heater inside your home. Fuel-burning space heaters are intended for open-air use and should never be brought into the house, even if you are undergoing furnace maintenance and have no other source of heating. Using a fuel-burning space heater inside could expose your family to carbon monoxide or other poisonous gases. For the safety of you and your loved ones, it’s always best to stick with smaller, electric space heaters. If your furnace is not working properly and you’re relying on a space heater, Enercare is available to help with your furnace maintenance needs.

Place Heaters Away from Furniture and Walls

Keep your space heater on a hard surface that is level and non-flammable, such as concrete or ceramic flooring. You should try to leave appropriate space around the space heater (check the operating manual) since the device may be powerful enough to quickly set objects on fire if they are placed too close. Be especially careful with flammable items like drapes, furniture, and clothing that could easily catch on fire. Also, make sure not to place heaters in doorways or the middle of the room to prevent a tripping hazard.

Keep Heaters Away from Water and Wet Items

Space heaters don’t mesh well with water, so you should always position them as far away from any source of moisture as possible. Space heaters should only be used in bathrooms if they are a model specifically built for use around water. Never use your space heater to dry clothes or bed sheets, as this can become a serious safety issue if the fabric catches on fire.

Don’t Leave Your Space Heater on Overnight

A space heater should be used only for a limited time and should never be left unattended. Space heaters can’t regulate temperature well for long periods, which can be dangerous when not actively monitored, and also lead to higher energy bills. Therefore, never leave your space heater on overnight or all day when you’re at work. Whenever you use a space heater to quickly warm up an area of your home, make sure to turn it off before leaving the room, especially if you have kids or pets that could touch the hot surface or trip over the cords.

Prevent Space Heater Fire Hazards

Safe placement of space heaters and keeping them attended is essential for preventing space heater fires. There are a couple of other steps you can take to ensure maximum safety:

  1. Ensure that your space heater is plugged directly into a wall outlet rather than with an extension cord. Adding cords increases the chance for a fire.
  2. Install and maintain smoke detectors in the home, to ensure an extra layer of protection.

Check for Safety Features and Certifications

When you’re shopping for a space heater, choose a model that includes these following safety and certification features:

  • automatic shut off in the event the heater tips over
  • overheat sensors that will shut off the heater if the temperature gets too hot
  • a grill to prevent fingers from getting too close to the heating element
  • safety certification from an organization such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

Electric space heaters can be a simple, inexpensive way to warm your home, however they should not be relied upon as your primary source of heat. It’s important to maintain your furnace to ensure proper heating of your home.

Give us a call today to have your furnace inspected by one of our experienced technicians.