Portable heater safety

When the weather turns cold, it can bring a chill into our homes. Portable space heaters have become a popular way to supplement central heating or heat one room. If you plan to use portable electric space heaters, make sure to follow these tips and recommendations.

Heater checklist

  • Purchase a heater with the seal of a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anything that can burn, including people.
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat and overheat protection.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.
  • Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic. Never block an exit.
  • Keep children away from the space heater.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed.

Types of electric space heaters

Oil or water-filled radiator

Heated oil or water travels through the heater.

Fan-forced heater

A fan blows warm air over metal coils.

Ceramic heater

Air is warmed over a ceramic heating element.

Infrared heaters

Heat is created by infrared bulbs.


Two in five deaths in space heater fires involve portable electric space heaters.


This information is from the National Fire Protection Association – the leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards.

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