Here's how to stay both warm and safe when using a space heater

The Kissimmee Utility Authority shares guidelines for this winter


As an annual cold snap begins to take over Central Florida, it may be tempting for many Floridians to break out a space heater for warmth. 

According to a 2018 report from the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second-most common cause of home fires in the U.S. -- 53 percent of residential fire deaths resulted from fires that started from heating equipment that was too close to flammable objects, like furniture, clothing or bedding.

Chris Gent, a spokesman from Kissimmee Utility Authority said space heaters are safe to use, as long as they are used properly. 

If you're planning on dragging out your old heater from the attic, make sure to follow these guidelines from KUA so you can stay safe and warm.

BEFORE USE: Check cords and plugs

Inspect heater cords and plugs before connecting to an outlet. If the cord is frayed or any other part of the heater is damaged, do not use it.

Plug equipment directly into a wall outlet

Safety guidelines recommend only plugging heaters into wall outlets instead of using extension cords or power strips, as they can overheat. No other electrical devices should be plugged into the same outlet as the heater.

Impose a three feet rule around heaters

Keeping heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn significantly reduces the risk of a home fire. This rule can also apply to children and pets, who may knock the heater over or even get burned.

Keep heaters out of high-traffic areas

Heaters are best kept out of areas with lots of foot traffic as well as out of doorways. Both the units themselves and their cords can be tripping hazards.

Keep heaters on flat surfaces

While it may be tempting to balance your space heater on the counter while you get ready for the day, safety guidelines dictate against doing so. Heaters should always stay on a flat, noncarpeted floor.

Never leave a heater unattended

Make sure to turn your heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep, as heaters can overheat and ignite after being used for too long.