Safety Tip of the Week

This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, provides safety tips related to the use of space heaters.

Space Heater Safety

When the cold sets in, space heaters become a common fixture in the district. These space heaters can sometimes feel like a lifesaver in freezing temperatures and when snow is predicted.

When used properly, they are a welcome warm relief from the cold. However, if space heaters are used improperly, are not kept clear from combustible materials or are not functioning properly, they can cause fire, electric shock and may even produce carbon monoxide.

It is important to use these safe guidelines to help reduce the risk of fire or injury to faculty, staff, students and property.

  • Use of space heaters should not be allowed unless prior management approval is provided.
  • Units that have been listed or labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ETL (Intertek) are the only space heaters permitted for use.
  • Keep at least 36 inches of clearance around every space heater and only use them in areas free of flammable liquids and easily ignited or combustible materials such as paper or cardboard.
  • Proper placement of the space heater is important. Be sure it is not in a high-traffic area or in any area where it may become a tripping hazard.
  • If using an electric space heater, make sure electrical cords and plugs are not frayed or damaged. Always plug the heater directly into the wall outlet, and be sure the power cord is not crossing a walkway. Never use extension cords or power strips, as these could overheat and lead to a fire.
  • Be sure space heaters are never left unattended.
  • Make sure space heaters are turned off when you leave the room, and they should be unplugged at the end of the day.