Be Smart about Space Heater Safety

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As fall weather takes hold, many reach for space heaters for a bit of extra warmth.

But, according to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters account for one-third of home heating fires and four out of five home heating deaths. So, it’s important to keep safety top of mind. That’s why Georgia Tech’s Fire Safety Office has provided guidelines for selecting space heaters and for their safe placement and usage.

A space heater should:

  • Be made of ceramic-type material.
  • Have an individual, built-in thermostat.
  • Automatically shut off if the airflow becomes blocked.
  • Shut off automatically if the heater tips over.
  • Be approved by a testing laboratory, such as UL.

Also, when using a space heater, follow these guidelines:

  • Place the heater on a flat, level surface.
  • Avoid using the heater in wet or moist areas such as bathrooms unless specified for that purpose.
  • Plug the heater directly into a wall receptacle without using an extension cord.
  • Ensure the cord fits snugly into the socket, and unplug it if it feels hot near the outlet.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 3 feet between all sides of the heater and combustible materials such as furniture, paper, boxes, trashcans, clothes, and fabric-covered furniture.
  • Maintain airflow behind and around the unit.
  • Turn off the heater each time you leave the office.

Georgia Tech’s Fire Safety Office also provides on-site space heater inspections on a building-by-building basis. To have your space heater inspected or to arrange a building/group inspection, email, or call 404-894-FIRE (3473).




  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Victor Rogers
  • Created: 11/18/2014
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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