Apartment Safety Tips: Space Heaters


This time of year, winter may be starting to run its course in some parts of the country, but there is still a frigid chill in the air in others. To add extra warmth to rooms at the far side of the house or apartment or save money on heating costs, many residents turn to space heaters.

And property management teams need to be proactive in making sure residents are educated about apartment safety tips for these portable heating devices before an accident can happen.

Portable Warmth Comes with Portable Danger

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Here are some safety tips for property management teams to pass along to residents regardless of the type of space heater being used.

General Space Heater Safety Tips for Apartments

  • Recommend that residents only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from household combustibles.
  • Use space heaters only as a supplementary source of heat. These devices are not intended to replace the home’s heating system.
  • Heaters should be placed on a flat, level surface. Do not place heaters on furniture since they may fall and become damaged or break parts in the heater.
  • Be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.

Electric Space Heater Safety Tips for Apartments

  • Do not use extension cords with space heaters unless absolutely necessary. If an extension cord is necessary, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
  • Inspect the heater’s cord periodically to look for frayed wire or damaged insulation. Do not use a space heater with a damaged cord.
  • Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced by a qualified technician. This could be the sign of a potential home wiring issue.
  • Unless the heater is designed for use outdoors or in bathrooms, do not use in damp, wet areas.

Kerosene Heater Safety Tips for Apartments

  • If using a liquid-fueled space heater, use only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment was designed for and cause a serious fire.
  • When refueling, turn off the heater and let it cool down completely before adding fuel. Wipe away any spills promptly.
  • Before buying a kerosene heater, check with your local fire department to ensure that it is legal.

While your property management teams are passing along these safety tips, it’s also an opportune time to remind residents about the value of renter’s insurance (if you’re not already requiring it).

Safety Tip Sources: UL.com and Energy Department of the U.S. Government.



Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of PropertyManagementInsider.com. He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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