While there are numerous opportunities to use a space heater, ultimately there’s just one reason: to generate heat. Maybe you need more in one area of your house or you want at least some heat in your garage to prevent pipes from freezing – just as two quick examples.

But like with most other sides, there’s a downside to using a space heater. Quite simply, it’s a known fire and safety hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for 44% of all recorded home fires each year.

Does that mean you should get rid of yours or at least stop using it? Not at all. It does mean, however, that you should follow these essential safety tips.

Keep away from fabrics and upholstery. Maintain a “safety zone” of at least three feet between your space heater and any flammable material like bedding, curtains, clothing, and even mattresses.

Don’t run electrical cords under rugs.  While placing a cord under a rug may prevent family members from tripping, it puts you at risk of an electrical fire should the cord crimp or fray beneath the rug.

Don’t leave children or pets unattended. The warmth of a space heater can be a huge draw for pets and curious children. But if left alone, they could accidentally tip the space heater over or get burned if they get too close. Turn the space heater off and unplug it if you must leave the room, even for a minute.

Never use a space heater with an extension cord. The high-power need of a space heater can cause a power strip or extension cord to overheat and ignite. Plug a space heater directly into a wall outlet and avoid using the same outlet for other electronics.

Space heaters and water don’t mix. You might be tempted to add a little extra warmth to your bathroom but doing so could start an electrical fire should water and the heater meet up, so to speak.

Don’t place a space heater on an area rug or carpet. Only place the unit on hard floor surfaces like tile, vinyl, laminate, or wood. Just like textiles, carpeting and area rugs can trap heat and ignite.

Turn the space heater off before going to bed. Should the unit tip over, overheat, or short circuit while you’re sound asleep…well, it’s a problem best avoided.

Don’t block an exit or escape route. Place your space heater at least three feet to the side of a doorway or high-traffic area so it doesn’t become a trip and fall hazard or impede your ability to leave a room or your home quickly.

Always check the certification. Look for the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) or Intertek (ETL) certification on the space heater’s packaging to ensure that the unit has undergone rigorous safety testing. And never use a hand-me-down space heater that may not meet today’s safety standards.

If you’re using a space heater to compensate for hot and cold spots in your home, something is clearly wrong with the heating system or a thermostat. Sure, a space heater can fill a temporary need but, for long-lasting results, contact Anthony’s for a thorough heating system check-up to determine what the problem might be.

After all, keeping you warm and comfortable during the winter season is one of the things we do best.