7 things you should never put near your space heater

Space heater in living room
Space heater in living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want to turn up the heat this winter, while keeping your energy bills down, you’ll want one of the best space heaters to keep you toasty. Not only can space heaters quickly warm up the immediate space in a single room (without cranking up the entire house's central heating), but can be placed anywhere you need it.

However, in doing so, you need to be aware of safety. There are several things you should never put near your space heater — but probably do. And while a space heater can bring you instant warmth and comfort, it can also pose a major fire hazard if not used correctly. 

Generally, you should never leave a space heater unattended, so don’t even think about pre-heating a room before you return home. Also, make sure your space heater carries a safety certification label from an independent testing organization. Other safety features to look for include an auto shut-off/overheat, thermostat and a handy tip-over switch that will automatically shut the device off if not in an upright position. And of course, always keep out of the reach of young children and pets to avoid a serious hazard. 

So before turning on your trusted space heater, just be aware of these things you should never put near your space heater.

Also, if you’re undecided about whether to  invest in a space heater, check out our helpful guide,  should you buy a space heater? Here are the pros and cons.

1. On a rug or carpet

A space heater in a living room next to a rug and sofa

A space heater in a living room next to a rug and sofa (Image credit: Shutterstock)

One safety rule is to never place a space heater on top of a carpet or area rug. Not only can your space heater be unstable, and risk tipping over, but the fibres could trap heat and potentially cause a fire — this is especially the case of a poor quality carpet. 

It’s advisable to always place it on a hard surface such as wood, laminate, tile, or vinyl, and if you do have a cozy rug, keep it at least 3 feet away. Alternatively, if you have a fully-carpeted home, you could invest in a designated hard surface that would make it safer to use.

2. Sofa/furnishings 

Space heater in a room with lady lying on sofa

Space heater in a room with lady lying on sofa (Image credit: Shutterstock)

You might want to keep your feet toasty while lounging in front of a movie, but it's not advisable to keep a space heater near the sofa or other furniture. Soft furnishings such as footstools, cozy throws, blankets and even curtains tend to be made from combustible materials.  

So always keep your space heater at least 3 feet away from such furnishings to avoid a fire hazard. 

3. Near water sources 

A running shower with steam forming below

A running shower with steam forming below (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Even if your bathroom or kitchen has the chill factor, it’s never safe to use a space heater near water and in a damp or humid, confined space. Any water splashes from a shower/sink or moisture in the air can become an electrical hazard, causing a potential fire. 

Similarly, don’t place a space heater on top of a damp surface,  or by a table where you’re likely to put drinks on. You want to avoid the risk of any water getting into the electrical components. It’s always best to keep the environment dry at all times. 

4. Wet clothes or shoes

Space heater covered

Space heater covered (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, it’s recommended never to dry wet clothes or shoes near a space heater. And avoid placing damp towels over or near a space heater to quickly dry it — this could potentially start a fire. 

If you don’t have a designated clothes dryer, just use a standing clothes rack to hang your clothes, which would be far cheaper (and safer) to dry in the long-run! 

Check out Air dry vs dryer — what's the best way to dry your clothes? 

5. Flammable items 

Three cans of paint

Three cans of paint (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This might seem like stating the obvious, but many homeowners use their space heaters to warm up a cold workshop or garage, without taking into consideration what’s lying around.

Typically, never place a space heater in an area where there are flammable items such as leftover tins of paints, gas cans, or lanterns left loosely. Ensure old flammable materials are either disposed of properly, or stored neatly away.

6. Toys 

A box of children's toys including stuffed animals

A box of children's toys including stuffed animals (Image credit: Shuttterstock)

If your living spaces are being taken over by children’s toys or other plastic objects, keep these far away from space heaters. Most toys are made from flammable materials, which could be a potential fire hazard should they become overheated. 

Always keep toys in a designated ‘play’ area, and be sure to store them away in suitable storage boxes or containers after use. What’s more, never place a space heater in a child’s room or playroom to avoid any serious accidents. 

7. Unattended pets 

Cat next to a space heater

Cat next to a space heater (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Our pets also want to keep cozy, and although they might want to bask in the warmth, never leave your fur babies unattended near a space heater.  Not only could their fur could become overheated, but they could accidentally knock over a heater, posing a serious hazard. 

It’s always advised to either keep pets out of the room with a space heater in it, or turn the heater off when you leave them alone in the room. You want to take as much precaution, to prevent a fire. 

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!