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Safety Around Space Heaters PDF Print E-mail
News - Safety
Written by J. Reaves   
Monday, 14 October 2013 11:48

This week’s forecast shows a strong cold front moving through the state. While temperatures should still remain in the 60’s throughout the week it is a reminder of weather that will soon be at our front door. Many of us will soon be cranking up the thermostat to keep warm, and some will be turning to secondary sources of heat, such as space heaters. 

The NFPA reports that space heaters account for one third of home heating fires, and as many as four out of five home heating fire fatalities. The best idea is to utilize your homes central heat system, although sometimes that is not an option or not enough. With that in mind here are some best practices to ensure your family stays safe and warm this winter. 

Keep space heaters at least three feet from any combustible materials, including furniture, bedding, curtians,paper, walls, and people. This clearance should extend to all sides of the heater, including the top.

  • Plug your space heaters directly into the wall, NOT an extension chord or power strip, and check the plug and chord frequently. If the plug and chord are hot then unplug the heater, discontinue use, and consult a licensed technician.
  • Set up the heater on a solid level surface out of the flow of foot trafic. make sure that your space heater is equipped with an automatic safety shut of in the event that the heater is tipped over. 
  • Never leave a space heater running while you are sleeping or away from home.
  •  Remember that electric space heaters can be a shock hazard, so do not use them near water.


Supervise children and pets while space heaters are in use, maintaining a three foot “kid free zone”. For those with children or pets there are some space heater options available with “cool touch” faces, which do not heat up the exterior of the heater. This option is a good way to keep curious kids or pets from being burned, but does not replace adult supervision.


Some space heaters burn fuel to produce heat, making it important that these units are vented properly to avoid Carbon Monoxide build-up. Read all of the installation and use instructions to be sure this is done correctly. If you aren’t sure, contact a licensed technician. As always, the most important thing you can do to protect your family is have working, properly installed smoke detectors. If burning fuel of any kind (wood, heating oil, kerosene, etc), working CO detectors are important as well. If you don’t have these items you may contact the Little Axe Fire Dept. to schedule free installation of both smoke and CO detectors by our trained firefighters.


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