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With the winter months creeping in, it is important to understand how to safely use a portable heater. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 900 portable heater fires in homes are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss. Fourty-five percent of all fatal heating fires in homes were caused by portable heaters, peaking in January. FIfty-two percent of portable heater fires occured because the heat source was placed too close to combustibles, with 38% originating in bedrooms.


While portable heating fires are small in number, the consequesnces are substantial. You can prevent a portable heater fire in your home this winter by following these fire safety tips:

  • -Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • -Only purchase and use portable space heaters from a recognized laboratory with an automatic shut off so that if they’re tipped over they will shut off.
  • -Plug heaters directly into an outlet and never use an extension cord or power strip.
  • -Inspect heaters for damaged cords, broken plug or loose connections. Replace before using the heater.
  • -For portable kerosene or other liquid-fueled space heaters, always use the proper grade of the proper fuel.
  • -Do not place anything on top of the cord. Doin so may cause damage to it. This includes rugs, carpeting and furniture.
  • -Keep combustible material such as furniture, bedding, pillows, paper and clothes at least 3 feet from the heater on all sides.
  • -Keep flammable materials away from the heater.
  • -Unless the heater is designed for outdoor use or in bathrooms, DO NOT use in damp or wet areas. Parts in the heater may be damaged by moisture.
  • -Check periodically for a secure plug/outlet fit. If the plug does not fit snugly into the outlet or if the plug becomes very hot, the outlet may need to be replaced. Check with a qualified electrician.
  • -Do not plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as the heater, this could result in over heating.
  • -Heater should be kept away from children and not be placed in a child’s room without supervision.
  • -Place heater on a level, flat surface. Only use heater on table tops when specified by the manufacturer. Do not place your heater on furniture. It could fall, dislodging or breaking parts in the heater.
  • -Use heaters with a thermostat that automatically shuts it off when the desired temperature is reached.
  • -Do not place heaters under desks or in enclosed areas.
  • -Keep space heaters away from exit and walkways.


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