Portable electric space heaters provide heat quickly without the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, making them a quick way to provide extra warmth to a chilly family room. But if you have little kids, it's safest to keep them away space heaters--electrical or otherwise. Here are additional tips for using space heaters safely.
• Use a space heater that has been certified by a recognized testing laboratory. (See our space heater Ratings and buying guide.)
• Use the heater on the floor. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, other furniture, or the like.
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from upholstered furniture, drapes, bedding, and other combustible materials. Do not place heaters where towels, clothing, or other items could fall on the appliance and possibly catch fire.
• Do not permit children to touch or move the heater, or to adjust the controls.
• Avoid using an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. If you must use an extension cord, don't use a light-gauge household one. Use a heavy-gauge cord. Do not bury any cords under carpeting or rugs. Also, keep the cord stretched out--heat will build up in a coiled cord, possibly melting the insulation and causing a fire. Do not place anything on top of the cord. Only use extension cords bearing the label of an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) or Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL).
• Never use heaters for drying anything, including apparel or shoes.
• Turn space heaters off when you go to sleep or leave the house.