NOTE: Statistics reflect most current data available.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, based on 2003-2007 annual averages, space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (32%) of home heating fires and over three-fourths (79%) of home heating fire deaths.
If your space heater is meant to be vented, be sure that the heater and flue are professionally installed according to local codes. Vent systems require regular maintenance and inspections. Many carbon monoxide poisoning deaths occur every year because this is not done. A voluntary standard requirement provides that a thermal shut-off device be installed on vented heaters manufactured after June 1, 1984. This device is designed to interrupt heater operation if the appliance is not venting properly.
- All unvented gas-fired space heaters (manufactured after 1983) should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). An ODS detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. These heaters also have labels that warn users about the hazards of carbon monoxide.
- Always have your gas heater and venting system professionally installed and inspected according to local codes.
- Vented gas-fired heaters can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not vented properly.
Be aware that older gas-fired space heaters may not be equipped with the safety devices required by current voluntary standards, such as an ODS or a pilot safety valve that will turn off the gas to the heater if the pilot light should go out. If the pilot light on your heater should go out, use the following safety tips:
Kerosene Space Heaters
- Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of a flashback, which could occur if you allow gas to accumulate before you are ready to light the pilot.
- IF YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT THE APPLIANCE. Turn off all controls and open a window or door and leave the area. Then call a gas service person. Do not touch any electrical switches.
- Remember that LP-gas (propane), unlike natural gas supplied from the gas utility distribution pipes, is heavier than air. If you believe a leak has occurred, go to a neighbor’s phone to call your gas distributor or fire department. Do not operate any electrical switches or telephones in the building where the leak has occurred because a spark could cause an explosion.
Portable Electric Space Heaters