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This webpage is an archived image of the Office of the Public Advocate's website as of December 31, 2013. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. The Office of the Public Advocate cautions that the information has not been reviewed subsequently for current accuracy and completeness, nor has the information been updated. The information contained on this page may have been superseded by subsequent events and the passage of time.

If you use a space heater, use it with caution.

Many New Yorkers rely on space heaters when landlords fail to provide enough heat, or in some cases, fail to provide any heat at all. But if not used carefully, space heaters can pose a serious risk of fire. They cause more than 25,000 fires each year. 

Protect your family. 

If you need to use a space heater, purchase one with safety features like an automatic shut-off and timer to prevent overheating. And when you use a space heater, take simple steps to minimize the risk of fire. 

Before You Buy

  • Purchase an electric heater, not one powered by kerosene or other fuels.
  • Be sure that the space heater has a built-in thermostat.
  • Look for features like a timer and an automatic shut-off that cuts power if the space heater overheats, topples over, or if something comes into direct contact with the heating element.
  • Make sure any item you are purchasing has not been recalled because of safety issues. Check the “Household Products” section of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Space Heater Safety Tips

  • Move all furniture and combustible items at least 3 feet away from the heater.
  • Only use space heaters for a limited time, and always turn it off at night.
  • Do not place electric heaters in bathrooms.
  • Never use a heater to dry clothes or other combustibles.
  • The space heater must be plugged directly into an outlet. Do not use an extension cord.
  • Heaters with damaged cords should never be used.
  • Always turn off heater when you leave the room, and unplug it when you leave the house.
  • If you plan to store a space heater after use, make sure it has cooled down first.
  • Keep young children away from heaters.
  • And of course, always read and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

And remember, all landlords are required to provide heat during the winter. If you are using a space heater because your apartment has inadequate heat, contact the Public Advocate office at 212-669-7250 or gethelp@pubadvocate.nyc.gov. 

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