Are Space Heaters Safe Around Pets?

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Now that winter’s chill is in the air, many are turning to indoor space heaters to keep their homes toasty warm.  For pet owners, this poses an added safety risk since pets are naturally curious and can accidentally bump into, knock over, or get their paws into heating units.  This can be a precarious situation, especially with many pet parents still working from home.

There is no such thing as a truly safe, pet-proof space heater.  Safety ultimately comes down to the following:

  • Purchasing a heater that has built-in pet-friendly features.
  • Placing your heater in a safe location.
  • Supervising any pets while using a space heater.

However, if you are looking to purchase a space heater and you have four-legged family members, we have some helpful tips that may help you and your pets stay safe and warm.

What Should you Look for in a Space Heater?  


Start by looking for the following four features:

  • An overheat protection feature or an overheat shutoff feature.
  • Tip-over protection: This will automatically shut the heater in the event it is knocked over on its side.
  • A GFCI plug: A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a type of plug that has an integrated circuit breaker that turns off the power when a current overload is detected. It protects users from electrical burns, shock, or electrocution. A GFCI plug also protects in the event your heater may come in contact with water.
  • Certification from an independent and recognized testing agency: This indicates that cords, plugs, and internal wires have been tested, and are deemed safe to use inside the home. 

Pet-Friendly Features

Some other pet-friendly features to look for are front panels and vents that are small enough to prevent curious paws from getting through them.

If you have long-haired pets or pets who shed heavily, you may want a heater with a front panel that is like a mesh or grill.  This will help prevent pet hair, fur, and other debris from getting into the heater and damaging it, or worse causing a fire9.  
Pets are playful and they like to check out new things, so a heater that heats the room while staying cool to the touch can prevent any accidental burns.

Placement

Where you place your space heater contributes to its safety. To prevent anyone from accidentally knocking the heater over, place it out of the direct path of pets and children.

Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how much space to leave on each side of the heater.  You want to prevent the heater from coming in contact with furniture, curtains, or other flammable material.

It’s a good idea to put the space heater far enough above the ground that pets do not have access to the heater or the cord. This will minimize the likelihood of a curious cat or dog chewing on the cord or becoming tangled in the cord.

Safe Space Heaters to Use Around Pets

There are two basic types of heaters: convection and radiant.

The ceramic heater is a type of convection heater.  A convection heater works by running a convection current across a ceramic heating element, which heats up and ultimately spreads throughout the room. Convection space heaters use warm air to raise the surrounding air temperature of a room.  

 Benefits of Ceramic Heaters:

  • They are safe
  • They offer consistent and even heating throughout the room
  • They heat up quickly
  • They are compact, making them easily portable11

Radiant heaters work similar to how the sun warms our skin. These heaters use electromagnetic energy (which is not visible to the human eye) to warm people and objects that are within close range of the heater. Radiant heaters use light to warm the surrounding area rather than heating the surrounding air.  

Benefits of Radiant Heaters:

  • They are energy efficient
  • They offer instant heat when turned on
  • They are ideal for providing direct, targeted heat at a specific location
  • They are quiet
  • They are low maintenance

Consider who will be near the heater. While most modern space heaters built now have safety features, ceramic space heaters are considered safe for use with kids and pets because they do not get hot to the touch. This minimizes the risk of you and your pets getting burned by touching the heater.

If you opt for a ceramic space heater, you still have a choice to make when it comes to size, portability, and heating capability.  This comes down to personal preference. 

Compact ceramic heaters are a great option if you are looking for a small, portable heater that you can take from room to room.  These heaters do the best job of heating small spaces.  If you are looking to heat a larger room in an energy-efficient way, you would probably be more comfortable with a ceramic tower heater.  Tower heaters tend to have a taller, slim design to them and many rotate back and forth, dispersing warm air throughout the room.  

If you are looking for something more permanent, there are ceramic wall heaters.  As the name indicates, these heaters are built into the wall.  These heating units can heat a larger area than a compact or a tower heater. However, it is also more expensive to run a wall unit because it will consume more energy. 

What May be Dangerous 

What about Propane and Kerosene? Propane and kerosene heaters tend to be less expensive than other types of heaters.  However, it is best to avoid using these indoors, particularly around pets. Unless they are properly vented, propane or kerosene increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  

Additionally, consider avoiding heaters with any open spaces where paws can touch heated elements.  Instead, opt for fully closed grills.  Ofcourse, preparing for the unfortuante potential of a fire may also be a good use of time..

The Takeaway

If you are in the market for a space heater, do your research. Keep in mind, when it comes to protecting your furry companions, even the best built-in safety features are no substitute for supervision.  In the meantime, consider investing in a pet insurance policy to help keep your furry friends protected and healthy all year long. 

Protect your Pets

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.