Portable heaters or space heaters are used by many during the winter months to help keep warm from the persistent frigid temperatures. While portable space heaters do help to generate heat, OSFM wants residents to be aware of the increase risk of fire caused by these heaters.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2011 and 2015 space heaters accounted for around 43 percent of U.S. home heating fires and 85 percent of associated deaths. December, January and February are the leading months for home fires. Peak time for home heating fires is between 4 PM and 8 PM (27 percent), with another 20 percent occurring between 8 PM and Midnight. The fewest fires occurred between midnight and 8 AM, but these fires caused almost half of the home heating fire deaths.
Follow these important steps to stay safe if you plan to use a portable or space heater:
- Create a three-foot “Kid-Free Zone” or “Pet-Free Zone” around portable or space heaters.
- Place heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a space heater unattended! Turn off the heater when going to bed or leaving your home.
- Always plug a space heater or portable heater directly into an outlet. NEVER use an extension cord or surge protector!
- Purchase a unit with a built-in shutoff in case the unit tips over or you forget to shut it off.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Check smoke and CO detectors to make sure they are working.
- Purchase a heater that has been tested and certified by an independent testing laboratory.