We know you’re thinking of using a space heater to “knock out the chill” in your home or workspace during Michigan’s coldest season. Even though they’re energy inefficient, we still want you to use them safely.

Use with Caution

Space heaters and other heating equipment are leading causes of home fires across the U.S. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters cause 43 percent of home-heating fires and 85 percent of all deaths associated with these fires. Space heaters bring risks of circuit overload, which can cause power outages; these heaters can also become especially hot while in use, creating burn hazards for children and pets.

Remember these electric space heater safety tips that will help you safely warm your home or office this winter:

  1. Place the heater on a flat, level surface.
  2. Never leave a running space heater unattended and remember to turn it off at night or when you leave the vicinity.
  3. Do not plug it in using an extension cord or power strip as this can cause electric shock or overheat the cord and start a fire. Always plug the heater directly into a wall outlet, but if you’re unable, use the shortest heavy-duty cord with 14-gauge wire or higher.
  4. Make sure the heater has no frayed or exposed wiring and keep all grates clear of dust buildup, which can cause a fire.
  5. Keep the heater a minimum of three feet away from combustible or flammable items, such as clothing, draperies, upholstered furniture, carpeting and paper.
  6. Avoid the risk of electrical shock by never touching the heater with damp hands or placing it in space with high moisture or potential for spills, such as a bathroom or humid basement.
  7. Only use a space heater to add warmth, not for cooking food, drying clothes or heating cold sheets.
  8. If you’re on the market for a space heater, purchase one that has a tip-over safety switch to automatically shut it off if knocked over. Also, make sure it has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.