San Diego Home Safety: Portable Electric Space Heaters


by Roberta Murphy

San Diego’s balmy weather can turn nippy on winter mornings, but sometimes it’s not really cold enough to turn up the thermostat.

For spot heating, many homeowners in Southern California are turning to portable electric space heaters. Frequently,  it’s more efficient to plug one in than to raise the household thermostat by a degree or two

Caution is advised, though, when using a portable heaters because they not always as safe as they are simple.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2005, space heaters were responsible for:

  • 32% of home heating-related fires
  • 57% of home heating-related property damage
  • 73% of home heating-related civilian death

Space heaters cause a disproportionate amount of damage versus central heating systems and fireplaces.  Therefore, it’s important to practice safety and care when using space heaters–and keep them away from flammable materials

Some other basic space heater safety tips include:

  • Don’t place anything that can burn within three feet away of the space heater.
  • Make sure that your space heater has the label of a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratory.
  • Never use an extension cord on a space heater.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed

And, of course, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions

Heating Safety Tips
National Fire Protection Agency