By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Space heaters are a good option in the winter, but there are things you should know to keep a heater from starting a fire.

First, make sure to give your space heater space.

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“If you set your space heater down, take a look around and make sure it’s three feet away from anything that can start on fire — any flammable material, your papers, couches, curtains,” said Jeremy Berger, a Maple Grove fire safety specialist.

Newer space heaters also come with some important safety features.

“Don’t buy a space heater from a garage sale or a second hand store,” Berger said. “Get one that is new in the box and you know that the safety features…they are going to be working properly.”

These features include a sensor to detect if the space heater is overheating. Another is a tip-over switch.

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“Make sure that there is a tip-over switch, so, if this gets knocked over, the switch releases and it shuts that space heater off,” Berger said.

He says where you plug your space heater in also matters.

“Never use anything like a power cord or an extension strip, because these are not ready to handle that kind of electricity,” he said. “It’s really important when you plug your space heater in, plug it directly into a wall outlet.”

Here’s one more tip to keep you and your family safe.

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“Your oven is not a space heater,” Berger said. “Do not use your oven to warm your home.”

Reg Chapman