The Dangers of Using a Space Heater in the Winter


Whether your heat is broken, you have an uneven heating problem in your home or you are simply just cold, you may find yourself temped to use a space heater this winter. While they can be a quick and helpful way to keep you warm, do you know the risks associated with using them? According to the NFPA, space heaters account for one-third of home heating fires and four out of five of home heating fire deaths.

Space Heater Dangers

  • Fire – If your space heater is in operation too close to a flammable material (bedding, rugs, towels, drapes, furniture, etc.), those objects can easily ignite fire.
  • Overheating – Though most newer space heaters come with safety controls, these controls can easily malfunction causing your heater to overheat. When your space heater becomes too hot, it can start to melt its pieces and parts leading to a dangerous situation.
  • Burns – When used for a long period of time, space heaters can become hot to the touch. If you have small children or pets, this can pose an even bigger risk.
  • Tipping – Space heaters are small so they can easily be knocked over by kids, pets and even adults. This may cause them to come into contact with flammable objects in your home.

Space Heater Safety Tips

If you absolutely need to use a space heater this winter, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Always keep your space heater on a hard surface such as a tile floor. Do not place it on carpet or rugs.
  • Ensure your home is well equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Turn the space heater off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Keep your space heater at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture or bedding.
  • Plug the space heater directly into the wall, not into an extension cord or surge protector.
  • Make sure the power cord is not in front of the unit.

Space Heater Alternatives

The best alternative to using a space heater is to have your furnace inspected so that it heats your home in the most efficient and effective way possible. A trusted HVAC technician may suggest repair, installing a zoning system or fixing issues with your insulation. Regardless, they will guide you in the right direction so you’ll be warm and cozy before you know it!