Campus Health and Safety
Safety Tips for Using Portable Electric Heaters
Green Practices
Public Health
December 2014
Safety Tips for Using Portable Electric Heaters
As the weather is getting colder in the winter months, the use of an electric heater is a convenient way to keep us warm. However, if we do not use it properly, it may result in a fire or an electric shock.
This article serves as a reminder of the safety precautions and guidance that need to be observed in order to prevent fire and electric shock accidents caused by the use of electric heaters.
Buy and Use Electric Heaters that Comply with Appropriate Safety Standards and Requirements
  • Only buy electrical heaters (and other appliances) which meet the statutory safety requirements for use in Hong Kong. Electrical appliances bought outside Hong Kong may not be suitable for use under the local power supply conditions (e.g. rated voltage and frequency). 
  • Electric heaters must bear proper markings showing the manufacturer's name or trade mark, model number, rated voltage and frequency, rated consumption, the type of earth leakage protection, etc.
  • The electric heater should be supplied with a user's manual with instructions for safe use and proper maintenance, and all necessary warnings.
  • The electric heater must be fitted with a 3-pin plug that is connected with an earth wire.
  • As an important safety feature, a portable electric heater must have a device that will automatically shut off the heater when the heater is being knocked over or becoming unbalanced.
  • The heating elements must be safely contained and adequately guarded against accidental contact by persons or materials. The casing of the portable electric heater should not become too hot when being operated.
Safety Precautions for Use of Electric Heaters
  • Read the user's manual for safety instructions and corresponding warnings before using the electric heater.
  • Inspect the heater for signs of damage/defect before turning it on.
  • Stop using an electric heater if there are any abnormal conditions such as overheating, burning smell, etc., and arrange for an inspection by a qualified technician.
  • Keep all combustible materials (paper, clothing, curtain, furniture, etc.) at least one meter away from the heater when it is being used. 
  • Keep children away from the electric heater.
  • Do not leave an operating heater unattended.
  • It is also not advisable to turn on the heater when you go to sleep. You may warm up your bedroom first and then turn off the heater before you sleep.
  • Do not use a portable electric heater inside a bathroom.
  • As electric heaters usually have high power consumption, they should not be used together with other high power consumption electrical appliances. It is highly advisable that an electric heater should be plugged directly to a wall socket instead of an extension board. Make sure that the power plug is firmly plugged in to prevent excessive heat being generated at the connection point due to poor electrical contact.