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According to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment, such as a space heater, is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. Home heating equipment trails only cooking equipment as the leading cause of home fires year-round.

How to Select a Space Heater

Here are some things to look for when selecting a space heater for your home:

  • Only purchase new space heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater has the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
  • Select a space heater with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat control, since they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.

Space Heater Safety Tips

Here are some tips to safely using your space heater:

  • Use space heaters on the floor. Never place space heaters on furniture. They may fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater, which could result in a fire or shock hazard.
  • Unless certified for that purpose, do not use space heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms.
  • Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.
  • Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. If an extension cord is absolutely necessary, make sure you use one that is of the right wire gauge size and type for your space heater. Using an extension cord that is not of the correct size and type can start a fire.
  • Do not use a space heater to warm bedding, cook food, thaw pipes or dry clothing.
  • Keep things that burn at least three feet away from space heaters, including bedding, curtains, clothes and paper.
  • Always turn off your space heater when unattended and at night.
  • Check for frayed insulation, broken wires or overheating. Have all problems repaired by a professional technician before operating.
  • Supervise children and pets at all times when space heaters are in use. Even the slightest contact with a heating coil or element can cause a severe burn.
  • Keep the space heater's power supply cord away from high traffic areas in your home.
  • Do not use or store flammable solvents, aerosol sprays or lacquers in the same room as space heaters.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions.

Be Smart and Protect Your Home From Fire

You may need a space heater to help keep your family warm, but we want you to be aware of the fire risks and take the proper safety precautions. Learn more about the dwelling fire insurance and property insurance we offer to our South Carolina members. Our local Farm Bureau Insurance agents offer quick, quality customer service.