Space heaters are a popular and efficient way to warm up a room during the colder months. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety when using these appliances.

It was discovered that heating equipment is one of the significant causes of home fires in the United States of America, and more than 65,000 home fires are caused by heating equipment per year.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a leading authority on fire safety and has conducted extensive research on the dangers associated with space heaters. According to their findings, space heaters are responsible for a significant number of home fires, particularly during the colder months.

In fact, the NFPA reports that space heaters account for 43% of home heating fires and 85% of home heating fire deaths.

These alarming statistics emphasize the importance of using space heaters with caution and following safety guidelines.

The main causes of space heater-related fires include improper use, placing heaters too close to combustible materials, and using faulty equipment.

To ensure the safe operation of space heaters, it is important to follow these comprehensive safety tips:

#1 Proper Placement

Position your space heater on a flat, non-flammable surface. Make sure it’s at least three feet away from flammable materials like curtains, furniture, and bedding, as well as humans and pets.

This will help prevent fires and other heat-related hazards. Keep the space heater away from the direct pathway of walking and sitting humans, and place it in the corner of the room, against the wall, and away from the window.

Additionally, ensure that your space heater is not placed near any indoor potted plants, as the heat can cause them to dry out or even catch fire. Ensure that your heater is not obstructing any escape routes in case of emergency.

#2 Extension Cords and Power Strips

Refrain from plugging a space heater into an extension cord or power strip. Space heaters draw significant power, which can lead to overheating and fire risks when using an extension cord or power strip.

Instead, plug the heater directly into a wall outlet. This ensures that your space heater is connected to a reliable power source and reduces the chances of electrical issues.

Never use adapters or splitters when connecting your space heater, as overloading an outlet can also cause a fire hazard. Regularly inspect the outlet and surrounding area for any signs of damage or wear.

#3 Carbon Monoxide and Ventilation

Ensure proper ventilation in the room where the space heater is being used. Although most space heaters don’t produce carbon monoxide, proper airflow can help prevent the buildup of other harmful gases.

Additionally, investing in a carbon monoxide detector for each level of your house, including the basement and attic, can add an extra layer of safety. Regularly check the detectors to ensure they are working efficiently.

Proper ventilation also helps in maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature and reduces the chances of the heater overheating. Keep doors and windows slightly open to allow for adequate airflow.

#4 High Traffic Areas

Place your space heater in a location where it won’t be a tripping hazard or cause obstructions in high traffic areas. This will reduce the risk of accidents and potential fires.

Keeping a space heater out of the reach of children and pets is also essential to prevent accidental burns or injuries. Furthermore, educate family members about the risks and safety measures associated with using space heaters to ensure everyone’s safety.

#5 Timers and Thermostats

Use a space heater with a built-in timer or thermostat to prevent overheating and to turn the heater off when not in use. This will help save energy and reduce the risk of fires.

Moreover, turning off your space heater before leaving a room or going to bed ensures that it doesn’t become a fire hazard while unattended. Some heaters also come with a remote control for added convenience and easy temperature adjustment.

#6 Unattended Space Heaters

Make it a point to don’t leave your space heater unattended. Always turn the heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Remember not to place anything on top of the heater, as this may cause it to tip over and potentially start a fire. Establish a routine of checking the heater before leaving your home or retiring for the night, and remind others in your household to do the same.

#7 Space Heater Positioning

Keep your heater away from doors and walking paths to minimize the risk of it being accidentally knocked over or obstructing an escape route in case of emergency.

Place the heater in a secure and stable location, ensuring it won’t be easily disturbed. Regularly check the area around the heater to ensure no new potential hazards have been introduced, such as flammable objects or clutter.

A stable and secure position also helps in maintaining the heater’s efficiency by allowing for proper airflow around the heating element.

#8 Direct Outlet Connection

Always plug your space heater directly into an outlet without using any adapters or splitters. Overloading an outlet can cause a fire hazard.

Connecting your space heater directly to an electrical socket also reduces the chances of electrical issues or short circuits. If you need to use your space heater in a different location, use a separate outlet rather than relying on extension cords or power strips.

#9 Flammable Material Proximity

Keep your space heater at a safe distance from any flammable materials, such as paper, clothing, or rugs. The heat produced by the heater can ignite these materials and cause a fire.

Maintaining an appropriate distance from anything that can pose a fire hazard is crucial for safety. Check the area around your heater regularly to ensure that no new flammable materials have been accidentally placed nearby.

#10 Cord Inspection

Regularly inspect the heater’s cord for damage, fraying, or exposed wires. If any issues are found, don’t use the heater until it is repaired or replaced.

Damaged cords can pose a serious fire risk, so it is essential to address any issues immediately. Make a habit of checking the cord before each use, and store the heater with the cord properly coiled to avoid damage during storage.

#11 Safety Features

Choose a space heater with built-in safety features, such as tip-over protection, overheat protection, and a cool-to-touch exterior. These features can help reduce the risk of accidents and fires, making your home a safer place.

When purchasing a space heater, consider models that have been certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or other recognized safety organizations. This ensures that the heater has met specific safety standards.

#12 Evaluating Watts

Most space heaters use up to 1500W at maximum capacity. It’s essential to be aware of the wattage of your heater and choose a model that is appropriate for your space and needs.

Higher wattage heaters can provide more heat but will also consume more energy, so it’s essential to strike a balance between heating capacity and energy consumption. Be cautious of using high-wattage heaters in small spaces or for extended periods, as this can increase the risk of overheating and fire hazards.

#13 Smoke Alarms and Regular Testing

Install smoke alarms in your home. These alarms can detect even the faintest traces of smoke and are set to go off at a jarring beep if there is a fire in your house.

Should your space heater start a fire in one of your rooms without your knowledge, your smoke alarm should give you sufficient warning to put out the fire or evacuate your house. Regularly test your smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed to ensure they remain in proper working order.

#14 Keep Children and Pets Away

It is crucial to keep space heaters out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental burns, injuries, or fires. Curious little ones and animals might not understand the potential dangers associated with space heaters and could accidentally knock them over or touch the hot surfaces.

Ensure that the heater is placed in a secure location, away from play areas, and educate your children about the risks and safety precautions related to space heaters. For pets, consider using barriers, such as baby gates, to prevent them from getting too close to the heater.


Stay warm and stay safe with our list of space heater safety tips. In our latest infographic, you'll learn how to safely use your portable space heater.

Infographic credits.

Can I Put A Space Heater On A Table?

It depends on the type and size of space heater you have.

Some space heaters are designed to be placed on a table or other elevated surface, while others are designed to be placed on the floor.

If your space heater is designed to be placed on a table, then it should be safe to do so as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines.

Be sure to place the space heater on a stable surface that can support its weight, and keep it away from anything flammable, such as curtains, papers, or other materials that could catch fire.

However, if your space heater is not designed to be placed on a table, it’s best to avoid doing so.

Placing a space heater on an unsuitable surface can increase the risk of fire, electric shock, or other accidents.

Can You Put A Space Heater In A Tent?

While space heaters may seem like a good option for warming a tent, they are not recommended due to the significant fire hazard and risk of carbon monoxide poisoning that they can pose.

Even small, quiet space heaters can generate a lot of heat, which can cause the temperature inside a tent to rise quickly, making it a potentially dangerous environment.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. Fire hazard: Tents are often made of flammable materials like nylon or polyester, and a space heater can easily ignite these materials, causing a fire. Additionally, space heaters generate a lot of heat, and the confined space of a tent can cause the temperature to rise quickly, increasing the risk of fire.
  2. Carbon monoxide: Some types of space heaters, such as propane or kerosene heaters, can produce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly in high concentrations. If a space heater is used in a tent, there is a risk of carbon monoxide buildup, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  3. Lack of ventilation: Tents are not designed to have proper ventilation for space heaters, which can lead to a lack of fresh air and an increase in carbon monoxide levels. Even if the space heater is electric and does not produce carbon monoxide, the lack of proper ventilation can still cause discomfort, condensation, and even mold growth inside the tent.
  4. Tent size and material: The size and material of the tent can also affect whether it’s safe to use a space heater inside. Small tents made of lightweight materials like nylon or polyester are more likely to catch fire or melt than larger tents made of canvas or heavy-duty materials.

Can I Leave A Space Heater On When Not Home?

No, it is not recommended to leave a space heater on when you are not at home. Space heaters can be a fire hazard if not used properly, and leaving them unattended increases the risk of an accident.

It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines when using a space heater.

Additionally, you should always turn off the space heater and unplug it when leaving the room or your home.

Can You Use A Space Heater In A Camper?

Yes, you can use a space heater in a camper, but it’s essential to take proper safety precautions to avoid accidents and ensure safe operation.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Type of space heater: There are different types of space heaters available, including electric, propane, and kerosene heaters. When selecting a space heater for your camper, consider the size of your camper, the power source available, and your heating needs.
  2. Safety features: Choose a space heater with built-in safety features, such as automatic shut-off switches that turn off the heater if it overheats or tips over. Additionally, look for space heaters that are designed for use in small spaces and have been tested and certified by recognized safety organizations.
  3. Placement: Place the space heater on a stable surface that can support its weight and keep it away from anything that can catch fire, such as curtains or paper. It’s also crucial to provide adequate clearance around the heater to prevent it from overheating or igniting nearby materials.
  4. Ventilation: Ensure that the camper is well-ventilated to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases. If using a propane or kerosene heater, it’s essential to keep a window or door cracked open to provide proper ventilation. Never use a gas heater in a closed space without proper ventilation, as it can be extremely hazardous.

Can A Space Heater Overheat?

A space heater can indeed overheat if it’s not used properly or if it has a malfunctioning component. Overheating can lead to a variety of potential issues, including decreased efficiency, damage to the heater itself, and increased risk of fires or accidents.

Understanding the causes of overheating and taking preventive measures is crucial to ensure the safe operation of your space heater.

There are several factors that can contribute to a space heater overheating, such as:

  1. Blocked air vents or filters: Dust and debris can accumulate on the air vents or filters of your space heater, restricting airflow and causing the heater to work harder and overheat. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent this issue.
  2. Insufficient space around the heater: Space heaters need adequate clearance around them to dissipate heat effectively. Placing a heater too close to walls, furniture, or other objects can cause it to overheat.
  3. Extended periods of continuous operation: Running a space heater for extended periods without giving it a chance to cool down can cause the internal components to overheat. It’s essential to give your heater regular breaks, especially if it’s not designed for continuous use.
  4. Faulty components or wiring: Damaged or malfunctioning components, such as heating elements or electrical wiring, can cause a space heater to overheat. Regular inspections and timely repairs can help prevent overheating due to faulty parts.
  5. Using the wrong type of heater for the space: Different space heaters are designed for specific room sizes and heating requirements. Using a heater that’s too powerful for a small space can result in overheating.

To prevent a space heater from overheating, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use, ensure proper maintenance and cleaning, provide adequate space around the heater, and choose the right type of heater for your specific needs.

Will Cardboard Box Okay Near A Space Heater?

Having a cardboard box near a space heater is generally not recommended because it poses a fire risk. Cardboard is a flammable material, and even a small spark or excessive heat can ignite it.

According to safety guidelines, you should keep space heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects, which would include cardboard boxes.

Make sure there are no flammable materials within three feet of the heater. This includes paper, cardboard, curtains, upholstery, and anything else that can catch fire easily.


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