Space heaters carry a much greater risk of causing a fire than central heating, such as a central furnace. Space heaters present a greater potential for human error such as leaving them too close to combustible materials or failing to install, fuel, operate and maintain them properly.

Safety must be a top consideration when using space heaters. Room gas heaters, portable kerosene heaters (illegal in many states – including Maui) and portable electric heaters have the highest risk of death and injuries, including non-fire related deaths due to carbon monoxide. Heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February and trails only cooking equipment in home fires year round.

The following steps and safety precautions must be observed:

  • If you rent you should get approval from your Landlord prior to purchasing or using a space heater.
  • The space heater selected must be tested by an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
  • The preferred style of space heaters are fully enclosed by design and have no external surfaces that reach temperatures capable of igniting, such as an oil filled radiant heater.
  • Keep the space heater accessible – do not storage anything within three feet of the unit. The leading cause of space heater fires is combustibles being located too close to the heater.
  • The unit must have thermostatic controls and automatic shutoff features.
  • The space heater must be plugged directly into an outlet. Do not use a light-duty extension cord or a multi outlet strip/surge protector; it can start a fire with a high-wattage appliance. The unit must be grounded with a three-pronged plug.
  • Do not use an extension cord or strip plug.
  • Run the power cord so that no one steps on or trips over it.
  • Turn off the heater when you leave the room – unplug the heater when you leave for the day.

Follow these basic safety steps and your space heater should provide you will needed heat in any small room at a fairly reasonable price.