My apartment is in a 100 year old building in San Francisco with an inoperable old gas heater, so I became familiar with space heaters this winter. They provide efficient, quick heat, but have some important safety considerations.
Older models are a lot more dangerous due to newer safety features. Check your model and manual to confirm safety standards and hazards.
If you're in the market for a heater, look for one with an automatic shut-off feature if it overheats, a timer, and a tip-over switch which will shut the heater off in case it falls over.
Always keep your space heater on the ground. A falling heater can cause a fire or other major damage.
Keep your heater away from all water sources, including steam from showers.
Make sure that you don't position your heater below bookshelves or other heavy objects that could fall on it during an earthquake or other emergency.
Never leave unattended, especially around children and pets. Do not keep your heater on while you sleep.
Heaters should always be plugged directly into a wall outlet - never an extension cord or power strip. You run a risk of explosion if a power source is overloaded.
Make sure the cord is not kinked, tangled, twisted, or below furniture or other possessions. Keep curious animals far away.
Keep your space heater at least 4 feet away from anything flammable.