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Space heaters can pose a significant risk of fire or electrical shocks if they are not used properly and safely. Space heaters are the leading cause of home fires during December, January and February-but such disasters can be prevented with a few simple precautions.

When used improperly, space heaters-gas-fueled, kerosene-fueled or electric, fixed or portable, wood stoves and fireplaces can all lead to fires. Portable kerosene heaters, which are illegal in some states, have the highest rate of fire deaths per household. Room gas heaters pose a similar risk of death from unvented carbon monoxide.

If you are in the market for a space heater this winter you should follow these safety tips from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

• Make sure and read the instructions and warning labels before using the heater.
• Place the heater on a level, flat surface, so that it cannot fall or become damaged.
• Do not use the heater in a damp or wet area unless it is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms.
• Keep combustible materials, like furniture, bedding, curtains, at least 3 feet from the heater. Also, do not block the air intake or outlet on a heater.
• Don’t use a heater near any flammable materials such as paint, matches, etc.
• Make sure the heater is out of the reach of children and pets.
• Check for a secure plug/outlet fit and if the plug does not fit perfectly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot do not use that outlet.
• Never plug another electrical device into the same outlet or extension cord as your heater because it could result in overheating. Also inspect the electric cord occasionally so there is no safety risk.
• Never leave an operating heater unattended and make sure to unplug the heater when it is not being used.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.

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