Sometimes you want to turn down your propane gas furnace and concentrate on warming up a single room. Portable electric space heaters help you add a little extra coziness to your room without having to crank the heat.

However, stationary and portable space heaters can be dangerous if not used correctly. Stationary and portable space heaters cause over 25,000 residential fires every year. While they are responsible for about 33% of winter house fires, they are responsible for 80% of winter fire deaths.

Choosing a safe space heater and following best practices when using are key in protecting your home. If you use a space heater to keep a room cozy and save on heating costs, remember to follow these tips.

Shop for a Safe Space Heater

Look for a heater with the following safety features:

  • A sensor that shuts the heater off if it overheats. Your heater should of course be hot, but not dangerously so. An overheated space heater is a major safety concern that puts you at risk of an electrical fire.
  • Model that shuts heater off if they tip over (common for taller models). Especially around kids and pets, this safety feature will protect the heater from common accidents.
  • A heater that meets U.S. Safety Standards. Look for one of the following labels.
Image Source: Consumer Reports

Make Sure Your Space Heater is in Safe Shape

When you pull your space heater out of the attic or the closet, do a quick inspection to make sure normal wear and tear is not making your heater a safety risk.

  • Check the cord for damage. If the cord is fraying or wires are visible, do not use the space heater until you replace the cord with a quality, thicker gauge replacement.
  • Make sure the cord does not get hot. You should only feel heat from the heater – not the cord! The cord should be thick gauge, not thin like a lamp cord.

Location and usage are important factors in space heater safety

Once you confirm that the space heater you purchased is a safe model and in good shape – it’s time to plug it in. Follow these rules:

  • The 3 Foot Rule – space heaters need their space. Keep a 3 foot radius around your space heater. It should be kept 3 feet or more from drapery, upholstered furniture, mattresses, bedding, etc.
Image Source: FEMA

  • Only place your space heater on the floor. Should only be placed on hard floor or very short carpet. Shag carpets or long threads are combustion hazards for space heaters.
  • Do not use an extension cord. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is marked #14 or #12 AWG. AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. A higher AWG indicates that there more bundled sheathed wires and stronger insulation.
  • Plug into solitary outlet. Your space heater should be the only thing plugged into outlet. Other electrical items compete for energy and might cause sparks that could ignite a fire.
  • Don’t use heater in basements or workshops. Proximity to furnaces, paint cans, gas cans, matches, or other combustible materials is a major hazard. Basements and workshops also do not provide

Remember to check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms should be present in every room on every level of your home. Check the batteries in your smoke alarm monthly. Smoke alarms are proven to help save lives in the event of a home fire.

Space heater alternatives to keep your home warm

If the safety concerns of a portable space heater, there are other ways to boost the heat in your home.

  • Propane Gas Fireplaces can help heat up your most used rooms. It can also help you cut your heating load by 20-25%. Direct vent propane gas fireplaces don’t require a flue – so backdrafting isn’t a safety issue.
  • Winterize your home from drafts. Caulking windows and stripping doors can keep the draft out and your home warmer.
  • Moderate your temperature with a programmable thermostat. Keeping your home at a moderate temperature helps you keep your house warmer and save energy. Programmable thermostats can help your whole house heating systemkick on and warm up before you get home, and keep it from dipping down into cold temperatures.