Portable Heater Safety

Portable Heater
Portable Heater


Portable space heaters are responsible annually for an average of 14,400 home fires, resulting in 400 deaths, 1,100 civilian injuries, and causing $909 million in property damage. The chance of tragedy resulting from a portable heater can be greatly reduced if the following safeguards are applied:

Safety Tips to Reduce the Risk of Fires and Injuries:

  • Select a heater that is UL approved with a tip-over feature. This feature will shut off the heater should it tip over.
  • Plug your heater directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord because it could become overheated and start a fire.
  • Check the electric cord on your existing unit for damage.
    If the cord gets hot, frayed, or cracked, do not use the heater. Have it serviced as soon as possible.
  • Keep electric heaters at least 36 from combustibles.
    Combustibles include blankets, furniture, clothing, paper, draperies, etc.
  • Vacuum any lint or dust from the heater.
    A dirty heater can overheat, resulting in fire. Make sure to unplug the heater before vacuuming.
  • The heater should have a working thermostat designed into it.
    This will insure that the heater will not overheat.
  • The heater should have an element guard.
    This will prevent burns.
  • Turn off heaters when family members are sleeping or leave the house.
    Unattended heat sources are a major cause of fires.
  • Do not hang combustible items to dry over a portable heater.
    These may catch fire.
  • Keep heaters out of traffic areas or exit systems.
    Blocked exits are a main source of fire death.
  • Always ensure an adult is present when using a portable heater around the home.
    Children or pets can easily tip over a heater and do not understand possible burn and fire hazards.
  • Do not use kerosene heaters in homes.
    These are not approved in the State or Oregon, are subject to sudden flare-up and omit poisonous fumes.
  • Ensure you have working smoke detectors and test them frequently.
    It is recommended you have a smoke detector on every level of the home, in the immediate area outside of the sleeping rooms, and in every bedroom. 
Additional Department Information

Fire and Life Safety Department Contacts

Medford Fire-Rescue Fire & Life Safety Division
200 South Ivy Street, Room #180
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 774-2300
Fax: (541) 774-2514
Contact: Deputy Chief - Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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