Once the weather starts getting colder, a great deal of attention is placed on heating safety, particularly regarding electricity, heaters and fireplaces. Even in Las Vegas, where it rarely gets too cold during the winter, you might want to heat up a room or two with a space heater. When used properly, space heaters can be an effective way to heat a small area without having to run up your heating bill. However, if defective or used incorrectly, some space heaters may significantly increase your risk of burns or fire.

In fact, states the Energy Education Council, about 25,000 house fires and 6,000 hospital visits every year in the United States are attributed to space heaters. These account for roughly one-third of all home fires during the colder months. Does this mean that you should avoid using space heaters? Of course not, but you will need to know about safe operating procedures and danger signs involving these devices before you plug one in.

When purchasing a space heater, be sure only to buy one that is UL-approved. This ensures that the product has been stringently tested and held to the highest safety standards. Even so, a UL-approved product may be operated in a dangerous way. For example, you should never plug a space heater into an extension cord or overload a circuit by plugging too many devices into a power strip at once. When setting up your heater, avoid placing the cord in a spot where someone might trip, or running it underneath a rug. This can cause a fire by overheating the cord. Always be sure to set the heater at least three feet away from furniture, curtains and other objects that may catch fire. Unplug the heater before you leave the room; never let it run unattended.

When you use electrical devices in the proper way, you stand a much better chance of avoiding injury. Some products may be defective by design or manufacture error, in which case the manufacturer may be held liable.