Tuesday Tip: Space Heater Safety

As the snow continues to fall throughout the Chicagoland area and the cold temperatures set in, you may require supplemental heat in your home and select a space heater as your source.  Did you know that heating equipment is a leading cause of house fires in the United States?  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cited, “Space heaters are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires, figuring in two of every five of these fires and accounting for 84% of associated civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage.”

You can refer to the below graph from the NFPA to view a breakdown of the number of home structure fires involving heating equipment by the type of equipment.

Home Structure Fires Involving Heating Equipment by Type of Equipment, 2009-2013 Annual Averages (NFPA) - 1

Given the above information, if you decide to seek warmth from a space heater, please do so safely to prevent fires by following the below tips.

  1. Purchase a space heater that has a guard around the heating component.
  2. Select a space heater that is the correct size for the area you intend to heat.
  3. Ensure the space heater you choose has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
  4. Teach everyone in your home how to properly use the space heater.
  5. Inspect the space heater for cracked or broken plugs, frayed wiring, and loose connections prior to use.
  6. Keep the space heater on a surface that is hard, level and nonflammable.
  7. Plug the space heater directly into a suitable outlet rather than using an extension cord or power strip, and do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  8. Do not keep anything that can burn, including but not limited to clothing, bedding, rugs, paper, and upholstered furniture, within a three-foot radius around the space heater.  You should also maintain a three-foot “kid-free and pet-free zone” around the space heater.
  9. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep and safely store it.
  10. Install smoke alarms throughout your house and be sure to test them at least once a month.


Source: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)