Space heater safety should not be overlooked

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2017

With the temperatures dropping, many people will recover space heaters from their warmer weather hiding spaces in order to stay comfortable on cold nights. But before using them, be sure to take all the necessary precautions to avoid an emergency situation.

According to, there are over 25,000 space heater related fires per year nationwide, resulting in more than 300 deaths. Additionally, more than 6,000 people annually visit the emergency room for burn injuries associated with room heaters.

Statistics filed with the National Fire Protection Association state space heaters are involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths.

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Monday, in Tampa, Florida, a 54-year-old man passed away after his house caught on fire.

Investigators said the fire started as the result of a space heater being too close to combustible materials. Additionally, the smoke alarm in the home was not operational.

To ensure your home is protected, the NFPA recommends turning all heaters off when going to bed or leaving the house, placing a heater on a solid and flat surface, plugging the power cords directly into outlets instead of extension cords and inspecting all electrical connections before use.

Other key safety step includes keeping flammable items away from the heater, such as clothes and blankets. When selecting a space heater, ensure it has a safety shut off switch in case it’s knocked over, the NFPA said.

It’s also a good idea to check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are functioning properly.  Sometimes changing the batteries in the smoke detector is a task people forget to complete. But that five minutes can save lives and property. 

At the end of the day, taking all the necessary steps before using a space heater will help keep you and your loved ones safe and warm this winter.