HVAC Breaking News

Dec. 19, 2005: Space Heaters Are Leading Cause Of Home Fires

December 19, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
WEST CHESTER, Pa. - During the coldest months of the year - December, January, and February - space heaters are a leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Space heaters account for 25 percent of home heating fires and 74 percent of deaths, according to the NFPA.

Energy experts are concerned that the increase in fuel prices will push consumers into buying space heaters, which have more potential for hazard. A spokesman for a major home improvement chain acknowledged that space heater sales picked up earlier this year.

Yet portable heaters remain a problem because they allow for the greatest number of errors by consumers using them, says the NFPA. The most frequent mistake? Placing the space heater too close to a combustible material.

Blaine Fox, a 25-year veteran of the heating and air conditioning industry and the general manager of ServiceMark, a full-service HVACR company operating in Delaware and Pennsylvania, suggests the following safety tips that contractors can pass along to their residential customers:

  • Read carefully the directions for its use. "It's the most basic rule of all, yet it's amazing how many consumers fail to read the owner's manual," says Fox. "Take five minutes to familiarize yourself with how the space heater functions and pay close attention to the safety tips."

  • Check for a safety endorsement of a national testing laboratory.

  • Make a decision based on safety features as well as heating capacity. For example, does your space heater automatically shut off when tipped over?

  • Keep your heater at least 3 feet from anything flammable.

  • Don't use space heaters for thawing food, drying clothes, or thawing pipes.

  • Check for frayed insulation if you have an electric space heater.

  • Kid- and pet-proof your heater. Never place a space heater where a child or pet could accidentally knock it over.

  • Never place a space heater too close to a bed, especially a child's bed.

  • Keep newspapers, magazines, and fabrics from curtains, clothes, or bedding away from space heaters, radiators, and fireplaces.

  • Check with your child's college or university before buying them a space heater. Some schools have strict guidelines about space heaters' safety requirements and require NFPA safety approval.

  • Choose a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This helps keep children, pets, and clothing away from the heat source.

  • Pay attention to size. The wrong size could increase indoor pollutants or simply waste energy.

  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion.

  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. For fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could accumulate or uncontrolled burning could cause a fire.

  • Don't use or store flammable liquids (such as gasoline) around a space heater. The flammable vapors can flow from one part of the room to another and be ignited by the open flame or by an electrical spark.

  • Pay particular attention to mobile homes because they require specially designed heating equipment. Only use electric or vented fuel-fired heaters.

  • Ultimate safety - When not using your space heater, don't just turn it off, unplug it.

    Publication date: 12/19/2005

  • Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

    You must login or register in order to post a comment.



    Image Galleries

    2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

    Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.


    NEWSMakers: Mark Satterfield

    Mark Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. and author of “The One Week Marketing Plan” talks about his book and the importance of HVAC blogging. Posted on Sept. 19.

    More Podcasts


    NEWS 09-15-14 cover

    2014 September 15

    Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

    Table Of Contents Subscribe

    Venting R-22

    The NEWS reported that a man received prison time for venting R-22. Should EPA step up enforcement?
    View Results Poll Archive


    2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

    Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

    More Products

    Clear Seas Research


    Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


    Magazine image
    Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


    facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con