The #1 Thing to Avoid When Using an Electric Space Heater This Winter

space heaters

It’s no shock that many households will avoid turning on the heating or AC at literally all costs.

The typical parent response would be “PUT ON SOCKS,” “PUT ON MORE LAYERS,” and “WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING A JACKET?”

During the colder winter months, a popular option for many households is to utilize space heaters and electric blankets. Retail favorites such as Costco stock these items in front of the store like alluring sirens before you go on your shopping odyssey.

As we stay inside and bundle up from the frightful weather, it’s important to note that portable heaters need to be handled properly. Just the other day, a space heater caused a fire estimated to be over $100,000 in damages. Around 25,000 house fires and 300 deaths are caused by electric heaters each year, according to Consumer Reports. No matter how much you’re saving with a space heater, it isn’t worth your health.

Here are some heating safety tips to pass along this winter:

  • Electric heaters must be plugged in DIRECTLY to a wall outlet. Do not plug space heaters into power strips. They are not designed to handle the amount of energy from heating devices and can cause a fire. Make sure that you also have a fire system inspection to prevent accidents.
Around 25,000 house fires and 300 deaths are caused by electric heaters each year according to Consumer Reports.
Image via Min An
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from combustible items. Okay, but what is a “combustible item”? You might be thinking, “this is a living room, not a science lab.” According to the U.S. Office of Compliance, combustibles include items such as paper, furniture, clothing and curtains. That could be your homework, a book or even the new hoodie you just got from that Thursday drop.


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  • Unplug it when you’re not using it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but imagine you step out for just a hot second and your dog or cat accidentally knocks it over and a fire starts. ABC News conducted an experiment to see how long it took for a space heater to catch on fire. At around 2 minutes, furniture started to erupt in flames and at 3 minutes, the entire room was set ablaze.


  • Check that your heater has passed laboratory testing. Again, this one seems like a no-brainer. Appliances usually come with a million labels on the box. However, you should be careful to check if those labels are legitimate and to purchase your appliances from a reputable location.

Feature Image (left) via Mark Turnauckas (CC BY 2.0), (right) via Kansas Fire Marshal

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