Do you use space heaters as a main or supplemental heating source for your home in the winter? How about a small portable heater in your office at work? Chances are that if you do not, you do know someone who does. Many American’s use space heaters to help reduce their electric bills during the cold winter months by turning down the central heating unit and using portable heaters to warm rooms in their homes. While they can help lower some power bills, they can also be dangerous.

In 2010, it was estimated that heating equipment was responsible for over 57,000 reported structure fires to homes in the United States. As we bundle up and brace for the cold winter months, here are some safety tips to share to hopefully avoid fires caused by space heaters:

  • Choose space heaters with a guard around the heating element to help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
  • When selecting a space heater, look for ones that have been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
  • If using an unvented fuel-burning (kerosene or natural gas) space heater, keep doors open to the rest of the house. This will help prevent pollutant build-up.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the room.
  • Keep in mind, mobile homes require specially designated heating equipment. Only us electric or vented fuel-fired heaters.
  • If using a fuel-fired heater, it is recommended to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home as carbon monoxide could accumulate.
  • Be careful where you place your space heater, cords can be potential tripping hazards.