Portable Heater Safety

November 18, 2016

A few weeks ago Daylight Savings Time officially ended. Although we got in that extra hour of sleep, we still have to get used to the fact that the days are getting shorter and the sun sets earlier at around 5:30. As we approach winter, portable and space heaters are perfect to warm up that one room or corner that doesn’t seem to get warm enough.


However, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, portable heaters are the cause of about one-third of all home heating fires, especially during the months of December, January and February. If you are planning on using a portable heater this winter, make sure you are aware of the fire risks and review these common-sense tips to help ensure your safety.

  1. Do your research
    When choosing a portable heater make sure you do your research- choose a heater that has been tested and certified for safety by an organization such as Underwriter Laboratories. Make sure you are also aware of what features the model has. For example, some models may automatically shut off if the unit overheats or tips over. A lot of models also have thermostat controls as well as timers which can help automatically regulate the temperature in a similar way.
  2. Don’t overload your circuits
    Make sure you plug your heater into a wall outlet that can support the power or wattage and ensure that the plug fits the outlet tightly. Do not ever plug a portable heater into an extension cord or power strip and make sure it is not plugged int the same wall as other heavy-duty appliances.
  3. Establish a perimeter
    Make sure you place the heater in an open area and at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. Don’t leave them running under desks, in closets, or in other enclosed areas. Keep them out of reach for small children and pets.
  4. Don’t cover up the cord
    Make sure the cord or wire to your electric heater is not covered. If the cord is covered by items such as rugs or carpeting, the cord can become damaged and it may also cause nearby objects to burn.
  5. Monitor for excess heat
    While using a portable heater, it is best to frequently check the plug, cord, wall outlet, and faceplate to see if they are hot. If they are, you should unplug it, discontinue its use, and seek repairs.
  6. Set the thermostat
    Make sure you are aware of what the thermostat of your heater is set to and control it to avoid overheating the room and wasting energy.
  7. Don’t leave it unattended
    Don’t forget to turn off your heater when you are leaving the room or sleeping! If this is something that you generally have a hard time remembering to do you should consider getting¬†heater with¬†adjustable timer options so it can be set to automatically turn off based on your schedule needs.

Whether you own a portable heater or not, live in your own home or rent one, we’re all at risk for a potential home fire, especially during the winter. The best way to ensure that your home, personal property and belongings are safe is to make sure you have the right insurance coverage. Speak with one of our agents over the phone at 415-386-2283 or fill out a free quote online to get the renters insurance coverage or home insurance coverage that’s right for you!

Contributor: Smruthi Sriram
Sources: NFPA, SafeCo