How To Use a Space Heater Safely

How to Use a Space Heater Safely - Tips from Payless Hardware, Rockery, and Nursery
Safety Advice from a Firefighter: Scroll down below to the end of our blog post to watch ACE Hardware's YouTube video and learn safety tips from a real firefighter!

Winter has certainly arrived, and we can feel it with temperature drops outdoors and even inside our homes and offices. Perhaps, like many of us, you can’t wait to turn on your space heaters to keep your room warm and cozy.

While our space heaters are a convenient and effective way to heat any room or small space, it’s important to use them safely to avoid accidents or injuries. Setting up your space heater safely and correctly can prevent accidents while ensuring supplemental heat for your home or office.

Let us go over some tips for how to safely use a space heater and ensure that you and your loved ones stay warm and safe all winter long!

Tip #1: Skip the extension cords, or use extreme precaution.

Although many space heaters often come with shorter cables, using a space heater with an extension cord is generally a bad idea. According to, you should plug your electric space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Too much voltage running through the cord can cause it to overheat and even start a fire.

If you have no other option and need to use an extension cord: We recommend that first, you get a heavy-duty surge protector or extension cord that can handle higher wattages and two, that you move the cord out of high foot traffic areas, as that would be a tripping hazard.

Tip #2: Keep your heater on a leveled surface and away from anything flammable.

Space heaters are designed to sit on level and stable surfaces. If you choose to place one on an uneven surface or unsteady piece of furniture, it could potentially fall over and cause damage. You'll also want to keep it away from flammable materials, such as curtains or bedding. 

Leave at least 3 feet or more of space: Consumer Reports suggest leaving at least three feet of space or more between a space heater and combustible materials. If it is a tall space heater, they recommend adding even more additional spacing. 

Tip #3: Don’t forget about the kids!

Educate older children about the dangers of improper use of space heaters, and do not leave young children unattended with one. Space heaters can be dangerous, especially if children use them. If a child is left unattended with a space heater, there is a risk that they could touch it and get burned or knock it over.

If you have older children: Teach them not to play near it (to prevent it from tipping over) and not to sit or stand too close or touch any part of the unit other than the controls (to prevent burns). 

If you have younger children: These curious and mischievous babies and toddlers can be curious and may try to push buttons on the heater or touch the heater’s grates/mesh. So, if you have little ones, leave your heater in an area they cannot reach.

Tip #4: Consider using a programmable outlet timer or using the heater’s built-in feature. 

A programmable mechanical outlet timer can turn off the heater automatically after a set amount of time has passed (15 min., 30 min., 1 hour, 2 hours, etc.) when it is no longer needed.

Note about programmable outlet timers: This nifty tool is usually inexpensive and come in extremely useful for even other household electric-powered devices like your cellphones chargers, living room lamps, etc. There are even programmable surge protector timers if you are in need of many different devices that you want to automatically shut off after a given time period.

Also, many products these days do come installed with a helpful auto shut-off feature. Consider purchasing one with this feature to prevent accidents and save money on your electricity bill. All in all, never worry about leaving your warm and helpful heater unattended using auto shut-off timers like these. Set it and forget it!

Tip #5: Set a reminder on your phone to turn off the heater later.

If you don’t have an outlet timer or if your heater doesn’t have the auto shut-off feature, let your handy phone come to the rescue. Use your phone’s built-in alarm clock, timer, or calendar feature to remind yourself to turn off the heater after a given time (in 1 hour, 3 hours, etc.). Why not? It’ll give you extra peace of mind and save you a few dollars on next month’s utility bill.

Lastly, we always recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and taking proper precautions when using any heating device.

For more tips, watch our ACE Hardware YouTube video featuring firefighter Patrick and our home expert Lou:

We hope you found these practical tips for how to use a space heater safely! As a local family-owned hardware and home improvement supply store, the safety of our customers is our top priority.

If you have any questions or concerns about correctly using a space heater, or if you are in need of a new space heater, don’t hesitate to stop by our store at Payless Hardware, Rockery and Nursery. Our Payless team of experts is always happy to help.

Stay warm and safe this winter!