PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Space heaters can warm up a chilly room, but beware.

They account for one-third of all home-heating fires each year, and more than 80 percent of home-heating fire deaths.

Consumer Reports has just tested more than two dozen space heaters and says if you have an older one, consider replacing it.

Fortunately, the new ones have gotten safer.

Kevin Reilly lost his restaurant when a fire started in the apartment above. He says firefighters determined the blaze was sparked by a space heater.

“It was all of maybe 45 seconds up there, and that’s all it took. That hallway filled up with smoke very, very quickly,” says Reilly.

Consumer Reports checked a variety of space heaters to see how well they work and if they have the latest safety features.

All the heaters tested have a safety switch that turns them off if they overheat or tip over. They all passed this safety check too:

Testers measured how hot a terry cloth towel got to see whether it burned or caught fire. None did.

“Even so, we recommend placing space heaters at least three feet away from any flammable items, like curtains, bedding, or newspapers,” says Peter Sawchuk with Consumer Reports.

Always plug directly into the socket – don’t use an extension cord.

In another test, a dummy was loaded with sensors to help measure how fast the heaters can warm you up or “spot heat,” say, just your desk area.

“Some heaters in our 15-minute test could only raise the dummy’s temperature four degrees, while the best could raise it much higher,” Sawchuk said.

Among large heaters, a Honeywell is excellent at spot heating and passed all of Consumer Reports’ safety tests. It costs $190.

For far less, the compact Holmes heater also passed Consumer Reports’ safety tests and is a Best Buy. For $40, it can heat a room quickly – though it’s not quite as fast at spot heating.

Be aware that one space heater was recently recalled by the manufacturer. It’s the Whole Room Vortex heater from Vornado, model VH110.

It’s been blamed in 29 instances of overheating and melting, including seven fires. The heaters were sold in stores and online from June 2013 through May 2014. For more information about the recall, go to vornado.com.

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