Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Warm up to these space heater safety tips

January 28, 2019 | Laura King-Homan | safety, tips
SAF_Space Heaters_homepage

When there’s a particularly bitter chill in the air during winter months, homeowners sometimes turn to portable heaters to add some extra warmth to areas of their homes.

If you use a space heater, be vigilant about using them safely.

In 2010, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 57,100 reported home structure fires in the United States. These fires resulted in 490 deaths, 1,540 injuries and more than $1 billion in property damage. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires are associated with space heaters. It is also estimated that 6,000 people receive care in hospital emergency rooms for burn injuries associated with space heaters.

In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you want to supplement your furnace in specific areas of your home. Space heaters generally have a capacity range between 10,000 Btu and 40,000 Btu per hour. They are commonly run with electricity, propane or natural gas.


Follow these space heater safety tips to ensure you don’t become a statistic:

  • Select a space heater with a guard around the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
  • When selecting a space heater, look for a model that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters meet specific space heater safety standards. Manufacturers must provide important use and care information to consumers.
  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all current safety features.
  • Choose a heater controlled by a thermostat. This avoids wasting energy and overheating a room.
  • Place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat.
  • Show everyone in your home how to use the heater properly.
  • Never leave a space heater running when you go to sleep or leave the area. With fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can accumulate or unmonitored burning could cause a fire.
  • Note that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only use electric or vented fuel-fired heaters.

This article contains information and tips from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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