Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Can I use a space heater in my area?

Many buildings on campus have uneven heat distribution, causing occupants to bring electric space heaters into their work areas. If used improperly, however, electric space heaters can increase the risk of fire.  If you wish to use a space heater, be sure you comply with the following: 

  • The heater must be electrically powered and listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or approved by Factory Mutual (FM). Tags or labels indicating the device has been tested and approved by either of these agencies can be found on the electrical cord or die stamped on the heater itself.
  • Space heaters with heated metal coils are not permitted. A guard or screen must cover the heating element.
  • The heater may only be located on the floor. Heaters located on filing cabinets, tables, desks or equipment are more susceptible to being knocked over, resulting in accidents or fires.
  • Electric space heaters shall only be operated in locations for which they are listed. For example, electric space heaters may not be located in areas where flammable liquids are stored or used unless they are listed for that location.
  • Electric space heaters must be plugged directly into an approved receptacle.
  • Electric space heaters shall not be plugged into extension cords.
  • Electric Space heaters shall have tip-over automatic safety cut-offs.
  • The electric cord for the heater must be in good condition.  If cords or plugs are damaged, the unit must be removed from service. Do not run the electric cord under carpets or paper, or across aisles or other walking paths.
  • A minimum of 3 feet clearance is required around the heater.  Placing an electric space heater near or in contact with combustible materials can be a fire hazard. Never place anything on top of a space heater.
  • The manufacturer’s use and care booklet must be read and followed.
  • Only electric heaters are allowed. Gasoline, kerosene and propane heaters are not permitted.
  • The heating element cannot exceed a temperature of 212*F (100*C).
  • Space heaters are not allowed in residence halls.