Space Heater Safety for Seniors & Caregivers

    If you must use a space heater to keep a room you are using warm, you must be mindful to safety since an unattended or faulty space heater can quickly cause a destructive fire. Ideally you should use a space heater with technology that will shut off automatically if knocked over or if the unit is overheating. If you have an older space heater that does not have these safety features, you should look into a replacement.

    How To Set Up A Space Heater

    • Give it room. Place the heater on a solid, flat surface, at least three feet from anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture or bedding. If you’re using it in a workshop or garage, be especially mindful of flammable items like paint, gas cans or matches.
    • Set it smart. Don’t put the heater on top of furniture or cover it with anything—both actions can increase the risk of fire. Also, be mindful of high-traffic areas and doorways where the heater may pose a tripping and burning hazard.
    • Watch the cord. Keep the power cord from getting stepped on and don’t run it under rugs, carpeting or furniture.
    • Plug It Directly. Using a space heater with extension cords and power strips could cause overheating, so plug the heater directly into the outlet. Be sure the plug fits tightly and is the only device plugged into the outlet.
    • Watch for water. To prevent shocks, always keep electric heaters away from water and never touch an electric heater if you’re wet.


    How To Run A Space Heater

    • Check it. Do frequent checks to see if the plug, cord, wall outlet or faceplate is hot; if so, stop using it immediately. Be especially wary of a hot cord; that means its likely defective or damaged and could spark and ignite a fire.
    • Use it for heat. Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat; don’t use them to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes. Do not put ANYTHING on a space heater when in use. A common way a fire starts with a space heater is putting clothing, a blanket or another flammable object on them when in use, quickly causing a fire.
    • Run it in spurts. Only use your heater for short periods of time; it shouldn’t be left on 24/7.
    • Turn it off. Don’t use space heaters in an unattended room, in a child’s room (where kids might knock it over or burn themselves) or while you’re sleeping.
    • Unplug it. Always unplug the heater and store it safely when you’re not using it.

    For more on related fire safety topics, check out Fire Safety for Older Adults and Caregivers.


    For more information contact:

    Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc.

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