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Space Heater Safety Tips

While space heaters may be a desired alternative heat source, the fire department does not allow unvented space heaters to be used in an occupied structure (please refer to City Ordinance 92.10, Unvented Space Heaters). If you have a space heater, or are considering the purchase of a space heater, the fire department considers the following information vital to your safety.

  • Always make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working.
  • Never use fuel burning appliances without proper ventilation. Burning fuel (kerosene, coal, or propane, for example) produces deadly fumes.
  • Be sure your space heater is in good working condition. All space heaters need frequent checkups and cleaning. A dirty or neglected heater is a critical fire hazard.
  • Use only the proper fuel for each heater. Never introduce a fuel into a heating unit not designed for that unit.
  • Store kerosene, gasoline or other flammable liquids outside the home at all times.
  • Use an approved safety can for the storing of flammable liquids.
  • Maintain adequate clearance in all directions around space heaters. Give the heater adequate clearance - 3 feet is the minimum - from walls and combustibles, such as clothes, curtains, beds or other furniture.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in a room with a space heater.
  • Keep young children away from space heaters, particularly when they are wearing nightgowns which can be drawn into the heater by a draft and ignited.
  • If you use an electric heater, be sure your house wiring is adequate. Avoid overloading the circuit. Avoid using extension cords. Use an approved power strip with a built-in circuit breaker.
  • Never cover a heater's cord with carpeting or furniture. This could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.
  • Avoid using electric space heaters in the bathroom. Never touch an electric heater when you are wet.
  • When refueling a kerosene heater, avoid overfilling it. If cold kerosene is used, it will expand as it warms up inside your home and may cause burner flooding. This could cause flare ups.
  • Never fill your kerosene heater while it is burning.
  • Turn off your heater or turn it on low before going to bed.
  • When using a fuel burning heater, open a window to provide adequate ventilation.
  • Use only safety listed equipment. Space heaters should be labeled with U.L. or A.G.A certification.