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To help you with the next nine months of chilly Northwest weather, let’s address the issue of staying warm. Other than stacking on the layers of clothing to match Mr. Claus himself, another option can be a small, convenient space heater. 

A word of caution, though, comes with that toasty warmth. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year, space heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires and send 6,000 people to the emergency room for treatment of burns. Together, these fires caused more than $1 billion in property damage.

What does this mean for insurance claims? Typical homeowner’s deductibles range from $500 to 10 percent of your coverage, which means paying out of pocket before your insurance company kicks in. 

Filing a claim with your homeowners insurance also records a claim that could result in higher premiums in the future. Even worse, the insurance company could also deny your renewal. 

How do you make sure that your space heater stays your wintery night friend instead of your foe? Follow these stay safe hints below:

•Give the heater some space — Placing a combustible object too close to a heater is the leading cause of space-heater fires. Allow at least 3 feet of open space on each side of the unit.

•Use wall plug-ins — To prevent a fire, never plug a high-wattage space heater into an extension cord or multi-outlet strip.

•Opt for quality — When shopping for a space heater, select a unit that has all the latest safety features and the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label of approval. 

Look for cool-to-the-touch housings and automatic-shutoff features that turn the unit off if it’s tipped over or overheating. Some units will automatically shut off if their infrared sensors detect a person or object that is too close to the heater panel — making them desirable choices for households with kids or pets.

•Never run a space heater in an unoccupied room — Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room and before going to bed, especially if young children or pets could come in contact with the device. 

Unplug the unit as an extra precaution.

•Size matters — Before purchasing a space heater, check the label to see if it is the appropriate size for the area you want to heat.

•Keep electric heaters away from dampness — Operating units in wet areas such as bathrooms can cause electric shock. If you need additional heat in a damp location, purchase a heater specifically designed for this purpose.

•Safety first — Every room in which you plan to run a space heater should be outfitted with a smoke alarm. 

If you’re operating a gas space heater, also opt for a carbon monoxide alarm.

Here in our Madison Park office, an entire wall is covered in windows so we will be using these tips to safely conserve energy and save money. Now shut that door, it’s chilly! 

EMILY WANG HAWKINS is a State Farm agent providing insurance and financial services. To suggest future topics or more information, visit or call (206) 588-0416.