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How to keep your family safe from the dangers of space heaters

It's cold, and sometimes when it gets really cold we turn to supplemental heat.  It is important to know how to keep your family safe from the danger of using a space heater.

Portable electric space heaters can be a very convenient source of heat in your home however, they can also pose a fire and electric shock hazard.  According to the National Fire Protections Association, space heaters cause about one third winter house fires and 80% of all winter heating fire deaths. 

When a homeowner starts a fire in their fireplace they make sure that the fire is out before going to sleep.  It is easy to tell when a fire has been extinguished because you can no longer see the flames.  The problem with space heaters is that there is no visible flame so people tend to let their guard down.  Home owners will go to sleep enjoying the heat from their space heater, all the while a slow burn fills their home with smoke.  Eventually a fire will start, typically when people are asleep and most vulnerable.  That is why the mortality rate is so high in space heater fires.

The most important thing that we can do to prevent a heater fire is to realize “it can happen to us” and learn about space heater safety.

Because temperatures this year in Iowa have been well below average causing many families to use supplemental heat sources, we’ve decided to share with you some heating safety tips.

  • Don't operate a damaged space heater

  • Choose a heater with built in safety features such as tip over safety switch, overheat protection, cool-touch cabinet and grille, auto-shut-off.  

  • Keep it away from furniture, drapes, bedding, clothes, or papers.  Studies show that 20% of these fires are caused by combustibles like bedding, magazines, newspapers, clothing, or furniture. 7% were caused by rugs, carpets, or mats.

  • Keep clear a 3-ft. circumference around the heater

  • Never leave the heater unattended

  • Make sure the plug is secure in the wall outlet

  • Don't overload the plug

  • Place the heater on a stable, level surface

  • Don’t use the same outlet at high wattage appliances to prevent over heating

  • Read manufacturer installation instructions thoroughly and abide by manufacturer guidelines.


A space heater will keep you warm and comfortable this winter. They provide heat in a quick, efficient manner. They offer user friendly controls and heating options that make them ideal for anyone. Observing a few safety tips and choosing an option that offers safety features, makes using a one a worry-free experience.

To schedule maintenance on your heating system or to speak to our team at 72 Degrees Comfort Company, call 515-965-7272 or email us at

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