space heater safety

Space Heater Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

As summer fades and the nights begin to get darker and colder, a space heater is just what you need to warm you up! Many restaurants, shopping centers, and even amusement parks use space heaters as a quick way to warm up their guests. Airbnb and VRBO rentals often include indoor space heaters to bring the comforts of home to your vacation. Although they are used commercially, they can also be used in your home or patio. Indoor and outdoor space heaters are easily available to consumers online or in home stores. A space heater is a wonderful way to bring extra warmth to your home or patio. However, like most products, using a space heater comes with a few risks. If used incorrectly space heaters can be quite dangerous. Here are a few space heater safety tips you should be aware of when using a space heater.

Use Your Space Heater Correctly

While following space heater safety tips correctly may seem like common sense, it is still worth mentioning. Most indoor space heaters are required to go through certification to insure they meet safety criteria. This rigorous testing allows a certain level of safety to be assumed by the consumer when purchasing a space heater. Outdoor space heaters also have safety requirements that they follow. These requirements include anti-tilt mechanisms, and automatic power-off buttons. Even with these safety measurements in place, user error can cause space heaters to malfunction. Never tamper with the electric or gas hookups for your space heater. Read the user’s manual and follow the guidelines for how to use your space heater. Space heater safety doesn’t need to be difficult, you just need to use your common sense.

Never Use an Outdoor Space Heater Indoors

There are two categories of space heaters: Outdoor space heaters and indoor space heaters. While they may initially sound similar, they are designed completely different. Some outdoor space heaters are small and portable in design, making it tempting to bring indoors. Resist the temptation! Although outdoor space heaters must follow safety guidelines, they are not as strict as indoor space heaters. Especially in regards to gas emissions. Many patio heaters are fueled by propane and emit different levels of carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. These gases can be fatal if inhaled in great quantities. Using an outdoor space heater outside on a patio or walkway dilutes the gases in the open air. If they are used incorrectly indoors the gases can build up and cause suffocation. If you begin to exhibit signs of gas poisoning while using a space heater, turn it off right away!  

Use the Correct Size Space Heater to Heat Your Space

Think about the size space you are trying to heat. Depending on how large or small that space is will help determine which kind of space heater will work best for you. It is important to use the correct size space heater to avoid overheating. If you are heating a large outdoor space such as a patio, you should look into a propane heater. Large outdoor spaces make it easier to space out propane heaters away from furniture or walls. If you are trying to warm up a smaller space, such as enclosed patio or indoor room, a small electric heater will do the job. These small space heaters are often lightweight and portable. If you go with a wall mounted electric heater, double check that you have a three foot radius clear of furniture. Avoid running your space heaters for long periods of time in small enclosed spaces.

Use a Quality Space Heater

When choosing a space heater, look for ones that are high quality. When space heaters are made of high quality materials they are more likely to adhere to all safety standards. This means they are safer to have in and around your home. Good quality space heaters are typically made of stainless steel. You will also find that quality heaters are coated to avoid rust. If using a propane heater, make sure that it can self ignite without the use of matches or a lighter. Last, check to make sure the base is sturdy. Whether you are using your heater indoors or outdoors, you want to make sure it will not accidentally tip over. This is especially important in the outdoors where there may be wind. While choosing a quality heater may increase the prices, it is worth the added safety measures.  

Reduce the Risk of a Fire

Fire is a big risk of using space heaters. If you are smart and careful about how and where you use your space heater you can eliminate the risk of fire. Always make sure your space heater has an auto-off function. Electric heaters will often automatically shut off if their sensors reach a max temperature. This will help avoid overheating nearby textiles which can be a fire risk. With all space heaters you should keep at least three feet around the heater clear of furniture or textiles like curtains. With propane space heaters you want to be wary of leaking gases. The gases that propane space heaters use are highly flammable. If you smell gas while using a space heater, immediately turn it off. If you continue to smell gas after you have turned off the heater, call your local fire department.

Other Space Heater Safety Tips to Consider

A lot of space heater safety is common sense. You should routinely check your space heater before and after use. If you notice loose wiring, or shorts in the electric heaters do not continue use. Make sure that propane heater pieces are easy to assemble. This is important for propane heaters because if they are incorrectly assembled the risk of a gas leak increases. If you see loose gas hoses or rusty propane tanks, discontinue use immediately. If you notice your space heater is old and does not fit current safety standards, you should replace it with a new space heater. Lastly, do not run a space heater without constant adult supervision. If small children or pets play around a space heater, you increase the risk of accident. These kinds of accidents could hurt your children or pets, or damage your space heater.  

In Conclusion

Space heaters are a delightful way to warm up in the colder months. Although they can be risky, they don’t have to be dangerous. By following these space heater safety tips you can confidently use your space heater indoors or outdoors. Do a little research and find out which space heater will work best for your patio or home this winter.

Amy O'Brien

I am a mother, homeowner, and a DIY kind of gal. Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains or throwing a BBQ in my backyard, I love bringing my family to the great outdoors!

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