Stay Warm, Stay Safe – 4 Tips to Use a Space Heater Safely

Winter in Wisconsin can bring extended chilly temperatures and below zero days. Space heaters can be a helpful addition to bring warmth in areas that are drafty, but they are also a serious fire hazard if not used properly. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires accounting for 43% of home heating firesIn addition, December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires. Always follow recommended safety precautions when using heating devices.  

Keep these space heater safety tips in mind this winter.   

  1. Avoid flammable objects. More than half (53%) of all home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that began when heating equipment was too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding. Abide by the 3 foot rule and avoid placing a space heater within 3’ of any flammable object.  
  2. Never leave a heater unattended. Don’t leave a space heater unattended while it is turned on. Always shut it off and unplug it when you leave a room. If there are children in the room, use the 3’ rule and do not leave them out of eyesight. In addition, do not sleep with a space heater on. 
  3. Place it in a safe spaceAlways place a heater on a hard, flat, stable surface where it is unlikely to tip over. Place heaters out of high traffic areas where they are less of a tripping hazard. Some space heaters have a tip-over switch that automatically shuts the appliance off if it gets knocked over. Look for safety features like this when researching to buy 
  4. Plug the heater directly into an outlet. Do not overload the outlet or use a power strip or extension cord that could easily overheat. Any added layer of electrical connection can increase your chances of overloading the circuit or can create additional resistance that allows heat to build up.  

Portable heaters can be a cost effective option if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating in one room. Check out this seasonal home energy checklist to learn how to reduce your home energy bill year round. 

Make sure your family and home is properly protected this winter with a local Rural Mutual agent.