If you live in a drafty apartment or home, you may rely on a space heater to keep your rooms comfortable when cool weather arrives. However, these appliances commonly cause dangerous electrical fires if used inappropriately.

Review these safety tips before using a portable heater this winter.

Give it space

Move flammable items at least three feet away from the space heater. Make sure it is far from clothing, papers, bedding, curtains and furniture. The National Fire Protection Association says that about 50% of home heater accidents occur when something near the heater catches fire. Do not put the heater in a closed-in area, like under a desk. Plug it into the wall rather than a power strip, since a surge protector can overheat and cause a fire with the additional load of a space heater.

Keep watch

Space heaters are not the best choice to heat a bedroom overnight since you should never leave them unattended. Always turn off and unplug your space heater when not in use. Choose a portable heater that has an automatic safety shut-off feature. Do not use a space heater if your home does not have a functioning smoke alarm.

If you rent a home or apartment, your Texas landlord is responsible for providing safe, comfortable premises. This includes providing a working heating system when temperatures outdoors could affect your health and safety inside. The landlord must also provide working smoke detectors in your rental unit. If you experienced a serious injury after a space heater fire, you may have a legal claim against the manufacturer and/or your landlord.