Space Heater Safety Tips

Space heaters are a great way to keep you and your family warm when the winter cold hits. When used improperly, space heaters can be very dangerous, putting you and your family at risk. If you plan to use one this winter, keep in mind these essential tips to keep everyone safe.  

Plug Directly into an Outlet

Avoid using an extension cord as they can increase the risk of overheating or cause a fire or electrical shock. A space heater should be plugged directly into your electrical outlet. 

Don’t Leave It Running

Make sure that you turn your space heater off when the room will be empty or if you are sleeping. Not only should you turn the space heater off, but you should also unplug the unit from the wall to minimize any additional risk. 

Use a Smoke Alarm

“The SINGLE most important thing you can do to protect your family is to have a working smoke detector.” – City of St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson (Don’t forget to test yours monthly and replace batteries every 6 months!)

3 Feet/ Kid-Free Zone

Mark down a 3 foot zone when using a space heater. This 3 foot zone doubles as burn free zone and kid-free zone. For the burn free zone, make sure there are no drapes, rugs, or anything that can burn within 3 feet of the heater. When setting up a space heater, talk with your kids about how far away they need to be from it.

Regularly Inspect

To keep your space heater safe and working well, inspect it before each use. Wipe it down to reduce the dust and allergens that may collect. After wiping it down, inspect it - check for broken/loose parts or a frayed cord. Be sure to never use a defective heater!

Use the Right Fuel

If your space heater requires fuel, be sure to use the correct fuel. Don’t use the wrong fuel or old fuel as that is likely to cause a fire.

What You Need To Know  

• 19,300 reported U.S. home structure fires

• 360 civilian deaths

• 1,020 civilian injuries

• $559 million in direct property damage & an average claim of $40,000


Space heater fires are common and costly, but keep our safety tips in mind to stay safe during the winter season. If you have any further questions about your space heater or space heater safety, contact your local fire department. We hope you have a warm and safe winter! 


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