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Space Heater Safety

(January 8, 2018) — Many people turn to space heaters—both electric models and those powered by kerosene or wood— as a convenient source of warmth in winter months. However, space heaters can be dangerous if not used properly.

Space heater hazards stem not just from fires caused by contact with or close proximity to heating elements. They also include fires started by flammable fuels used in the heaters, defective wiring in the appliance, and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improper ventilation.

Here are some tips for using your electric space heater safely:

  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet from flammable items such as curtains, furniture, or bedspreads.          
  • Select a space heater with a guard around the heating element.
  • When buying a heater, choose one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing institution such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Buy a heater that can handle the area that you want to heat.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Never leave a space heater unattended, and never go to sleep with the heater on.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids near a space heater.
  • Do not use a heater in a bathroom–it’s a high-moisture area that could cause damage.
  • Keep heaters away from water to prevent electrocution.
  • Do not use the heater to dry clothes.
  • Be sure the heater’s plug fits snugly in an outlet. The cord and plug may feel warm when operating since the unit draws so much power, but they should not feel hot. If they do, unplug the heater and have a qualified repair person check for problems.

For more home safety tips, visit MLEC online at or contact your local office.

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative is your member-owned source of power and information. We pride ourselves on providing safe, affordable, reliable electricity, while helping build the communities we serve. ###

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