Space heaters cause more than 1,100 house fires each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The National Fire Protection Association says 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, which leads to about 80 percent of home heating fire deaths in the U.S.
NFPA says home heating is the second-leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S., and it is the third-leading cause of home fire deaths.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International says to always plug a space heater into the wall outlet and never into a power strip. Plugging a space heater into a power strip can lead it to overheat, alongside an extension cord, potentially causing a fire.
“With the cost of heating fuel high, consumers might be looking to use space heaters more as a supplemental way of heating their homes,” said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. “By following CPSC’s recommendations for all types of heating systems, and by installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, you can help keep your family safe this winter.”
Space heater tips:
- Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn the space heater off if you leave the area.
- Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features; older space heaters may not meet the newer safety standards. An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
- Make sure your heater is correctly rated for your home. An oversized heater could deplete the available oxygen, causing excess carbon monoxide to be produced. Keep a window in the room open at least one inch and keep doors open to the rest of the house to ensure proper ventilation. This helps prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to provide sufficient combustion air to prevent carbon monoxide production.
- Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually to ensure proper operation.
- Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could overheat or generate excessive carbon monoxide.
- Be aware that manufactured homes require specially-designed heating equipment.
- Do not use unvented gas space heaters where prohibited by local codes.
- Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house, inside every bedroom, and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.