In the next few winter months, which feels like more than half the year for us Midwesterners, the use of space heaters not only in apartments but in offices and commercial real estate becomes increasingly more common. Considering real estate operates in a variety of locations – apartments, homes, offices, etc. – it’s essential that you understand the dos and don’ts of using portable electric heaters. If your real estate company doesn’t currently have a space heater, an employee or tenant might bring one in not thinking of the possible hazards that exist. If not handled correctly, these appliances can ignite nearby combustible materials like curtains, chairs, paper, clothing and flammable liquids.

Check out our tips and ensure tenants and employees alike follow them as well.


  • Keep any flammable items at least three feet from space heaters.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave the room.
  • Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns.
  • Purchase a space heater with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark, which signifies that the product was tested for potential safety hazards. Also look for units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep space heaters away from water.
  • Place space heaters on the floor, away from walking areas.


  • Use space heaters to thaw pipes or dry clothing. Misusing a space heater can increase fire and burn risks.
  • Use a space heater that has frayed insulation, broken wires or signs of overheating. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately.
  • Plug a space heater in using a power strip, surge protector or extension cord. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
  • Use a space heater near a sink or in the bathroom.
  • Cover space heater with carpet, blankets, or anything that could catch on fire.

Remember, space heaters are meant for temporary use and should not be used for extended periods, such as overnight. For more information, contact an MMA advisor.

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