With cold winter weather already upon us, families without a home heating system or who are struggling to pay their heating bills may try to find creative ways to stay warm, ways that could put their safety at risk. CPSC is urging friends, family and neighbors to share a few safety tips with those who are using space heaters to heat their home. If not used properly, space heaters can quickly create a deadly fire. Just search the Internet for “space heater news and you’ll find dozens of stories about homes going up in flames.
CPSC estimates that portable electric heaters are involved in about 1,100 fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths, dozens of injuries and millions of dollars in property loss. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, resulting in about 80 percent of home heating fire deaths in the United States.
This Winter Warm up to these CPSC Space Heater Safety Tips:
Before you Buy:
- Make sure your space heater has a seal of a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL. This ensures that it won’t ignite tissue if tipped over.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and inside each bedroom and test them once a month.
In the Home:
- Remember, your space heater needs space! It’s flaming hot! Keep material such as curtains, sofas, beds, clothes and papers at least three feet away from the front, sides and rear of the heater.
- Make sure the heater is placed on a stable, flat surface, and located where it cannot be knocked over.
- Never leave the heater on while unattended, or while sleeping. Consequences could be disastrous.
- Do not use extension cords or power strips with space heaters, to reduce the risk of fires.
- During use, check frequently to determine if the heater plug, cord, wall outlet or faceplate is hot. If so, turn it off and have a qualified electrician inspect.
Kerosene Heater Safety:
- A quick note about kerosene heater safety. Use only water-clear 1-K grade kerosene. Never use a substitute like gasoline or any other fuel.
- Never refuel heater while it is operating or hot.
- Operate only at recommended flame height.
- And please remember, always operate heater with doors of rooms open to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants, such as carbon monoxide.
Portable heaters provide warmth and comfort and can be a source of supplemental heat for your home. Our simple safety tips are intended to help keep families safe all winter long. Please check www.CPSC.gov/ and search “space heaters” under recalls to make sure you are not using a recalled unit. And for more on fire safety, click on CPSC’s Fire Safety Information Center found here: CPSC Fire Safety Education.