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Safety tips if you’re using a space heater to stay warm

Space heaters may save a few dollars during the heating season, but they can be dangerous when used improperly. With the coldest air of the year moving in to Indiana this weekend, Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson urges Hoosiers to exercise caution when using alternative heating sources.

“I’ve seen too many instances of improper use of a space heater leading to a tragedy,” Greeson said. “One preventable death is one too many. It is up to all Hoosiers to spread awareness about the potential dangers of space heaters.”

A complex winter storm will move across Indiana this weekend with an expected wintery mix of snow, ice and rain. Extreme cold temperatures also will accompany this storm into the latter half of the weekend, increasing the chances that Hoosiers will turn to space heaters to keep warm.

Nearly half, 48 percent, of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Heating equipment fires accounted for 15 percent of all reported home fires from 2012 to 2016, the second leading cause behind cooking. Greeson advises Hoosiers to follow all safety labels and take extra precautions when space heaters are in use.

Tips found on can help increase awareness on how to properly use space heaters. Some tips include:

  • Keep at least a 3-foot perimeter around space heaters at all times. The extra distance lessens the chances of something catching fire.
  • Keep space heaters away from loose or flammable objects such as clothing, curtains, bedding and furniture.
  • Turn off space heaters when leaving the room and before going to sleep.
  • Plug the space heater directly into an electrical outlet. Only one space heater should be plugged into an electrical outlet.

Other ways to stay warm

Greeson encourages Hoosiers to consider other options before using space heaters. Some tips to stay warm include:

  • Wear thick, warm clothing such as socks, slippers, sweaters and long underwear.
  • Caulking windows can stop drafts and decrease heat loss from the house.
  • Staying active while indoors can help with increasing body heat. Some activities to consider are dancing, cleaning, working out and simply walking around.

For more safety tips on how to properly use space heaters, visit

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