Madison, WI,
15:26 PM

Exercise Caution with Auxiliary Heaters

Used improperly, they can cause fires, burns and carbon monoxide poisoning.


On these cold winter days you may be using auxiliary heaters in your home to ward off the season’s chill. While they’re a great way to help stay comfortable, be careful. Auxiliary heaters, if used improperly, can cause burns and fires, and produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, home heating and cooling equipment, including portable space heaters, is a top cause of fire deaths. Be safe when using any auxiliary heating device and follow these safety guidelines.

  • Have a three-foot “kid- and pet-free” zone around the heater, and keep combustibles out of this region.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
  • Have fuel-burning heaters cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Electric space heaters

  • Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Only use heaters that shut off automatically if tipped over.
  • Place space heaters on a solid, flat non-combustible surface.
  • Don’t use extension cords.
  • Replace cracked or damaged plugs or power cords.

Fuel-burning heaters

  • Only use the fuel specified by the manufacturer.
  • Only use heaters with an emergency shut off.
  • Do not put heaters on rugs or carpets.
  • Only use heaters designed for indoor use.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's directions for proper use.
  • Only use heaters with oxygen sensors.

Wood-burning stoves

  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood to avoid dangerous creosote buildup.
  • Never use flammable liquids such as gasoline to start a fire.
  • Place a thick mesh screen in front of the flames to prevent embers from getting out.
  • Dispose of ashes in a tightly covered metal container. Place the container at least 10 feet from your home.
  • Clean and inspect chimneys and vents annually.

When using any source of auxiliary heat, exercise caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines. With care and safety, you’ll get years of extra warmth from your heater.