By Jamey Toney, ChFC® Country Financial

With home heating costs on the rise this winter, many people are turning to alternate heating sources to keep costs down. If you plan to use space heaters this winter, use extreme caution.

Space HeaterAccording to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), portable and fixed space heaters caused a disproportionate share of home heating fire deaths in 2007. Space heaters were involved in 32 percent of home heating fires, but 79 percent of the deaths. In addition, heating equipment was responsible for $608 million in property damage.

How To Choose The Right Space Heater

• Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or heating element to protect children and clothing.

• Choose a heater that has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

• Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat. The wrong size heater could produce more pollutants and may not be an efficient use of energy.

• Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions, and make sure all members of the household understand how to operate the heater safely.

• Make sure the heater has an automatic “tip-switch,” a cutoff device that turns off electric or kerosene heaters if they tip over. How To Prevent Space Heater Fires

• Place the heater on a level, hard, noncombustible surface.

• Keep the heater at least 3 feet from bedding, drapes, furniture or other combustible items.

• Turn off the space heater when you leave the area, and never leave a space heater on while sleeping or if you leave home.

• Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

• Do not use older space heaters or heaters with cords that are cracked or frayed.



When used correctly, space heaters can make a cold room comfortable and can help curb heating costs during the winter months. By following a few precautionary measures when using space heaters, you can ensure your family’s safety and warmth.