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MidAmerican Energy News

Space Heater Safety: 10 Tips from MidAmerican Energy

DES MOINES, Iowa – (Dec. 2, 2015) – As the weather grows colder, many customers turn to space heaters for added warmth.

According to the Department of Energy, space heaters can save money on heating bills when they are used to heat or supplement inadequate heating in only one room. In addition, they can provide additional heat to those sensitive to the cold, commonly the elderly.

While space heaters can offer comfort, and in some cases be economical, they are the culprit of more than 25,000 house fires every year in the U.S. according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

MidAmerican Energy Company encourages customers to keep the following 10 tips in mind when using space heaters:

1. Purchase a certified space heater. Buy a space heater certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. These heaters have been tested to ensure electrical components are working safely. In addition, look for a space heater with energy-saving features such as an automatic thermostat or shut-off timer.

2. Choose electric. Electric space heaters are the only unvented devices safe to use indoors. Unlike other unvented units, electric space heaters do not produce harmful gases, like carbon monoxide.

3. Have a vented space heater? Get it inspected. Vented space heaters, such as wood pellet stoves, can be used indoors. They are typically placed next to a wall with a vent going to the outside. Have these heating units inspected once a year because if the unit isn’t working properly, carbon monoxide can build up inside your home.

4. Do not leave unattended. If you leave the room, turn off and unplug the space heater to avoid fire hazards. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. If you are getting drowsy, turn it off.

5. Avoid power strips and extension cords. Do not connect your space heater to a power strip or extension cord. Space heaters get hot and can cause a power strip or extension cord to overheat, which could result in a fire.

6. Keep flammable materials at a safe distance. Make sure items that can catch fire, such as furniture, rugs, pillows, bedding, curtains and clothes, are at least three feet from the heater.

7. Make a kid- and pet-safe zone. Always keep children and pets at a safe distance from space heaters.

8. Keep it on a level surface. Place the heater on a sturdy, level and nonflammable surface, such as a tile or wood floor. Space heaters with a tip-over safety switch automatically shut off when knocked over – a key feature if you have children or pets.

9. Never use propane space heaters indoors. Don’t use a portable propane space heater inside unless it’s specifically made for indoor use. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how and where to use your space heater.

10. Protect yourself with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. As a precaution, ensure you have working smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom of your home. Check that batteries are working in all alarms. Additionally, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning. Install the detector at the height indicated on the manufacturer’s instructions.

For more tips on how to stay safe and warm this winter, visit the for your home section of MidAmerican Energy's website.

About MidAmerican Energy Company
MidAmerican Energy Company provides electric service to 746,000 customers and natural gas service to 726,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available on the company’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages, which can be accessed via MidAmerican Energy Company's website.