Space heater safety tips can help prevent burns, fires

March 9, 2013
Space heater safety tips can help prevent burns, fires
Experts give advice on where to place, how to use devices.

(HealthDay)—Many Americans use space heaters to provide extra warmth during winter, but they can cause burns and fires if not used properly, an expert warns.

"Every year we receive patients who are victims of house fires caused by space heaters," Dr. Richard Gamelli, director of the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a Loyola news release. "So many of these injuries are preventable if simple precautions are taken," he added.

Each year in the United States, space heaters cause more than 25,000 residential fires, more than 300 deaths, and more than 6,000 burn injuries that require emergency department care, according to the U.S. Consumer .

Loyola and the U.S. Department of Energy offer the following space heater safety tips:

  • Don't place space heaters on carpets or rugs. Keep heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture, curtains and bedding, and other combustible material.
  • Place space heaters on a hard, level surface where a child or family pet cannot brush up against them. Never leave a space heater on when an adult is not in the room.
  • Never keep flammable liquids near a space heater.
  • Electric space heaters are the safest type of space heater for the home. Plug them directly into a wall outlet. If an extension cord is needed, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, to shut off the if the heater falls over.
  • Do not use unvented combustion space heaters inside your home because they can produce dangerous emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Vented units that are sealed combustion heaters are safer because they are less likely to backdraft and harm . They are more efficient because they do not draw in heated air from the room and exhaust it to the outdoors.
  • When using a combustion space heater, follow the manufacturer's recommendations for fueling and use only the approved fuel. Never fill a heater that is hot. Never overfill a heater; instead, allow room for fuel expansion. Store fuel outdoors.

Explore further: Juno processing continues in Florida

More information: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about space heater safety.

Related Stories

Juno processing continues in Florida

July 20, 2011
( -- Processing on NASA's Juno spacecraft continues with the spacecraft being inserted into its payload fairing yesterday, (July 18, 2011). The payload fairing acts as a protective cocoon that will shield Juno ...

Recommended for you

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

Tai chi as good as or better than aerobic exercise for managing chronic pain

March 21, 2018
The ancient martial art of tai chi has similar or greater benefits than aerobic exercise for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Study: Poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but it brings other economic woes

March 21, 2018
A team of researchers led by an MIT economist has found that medical expenses account for roughly 4 percent of bankruptcy filings among nonelderly adults in the U.S.

Study finds bad sleep habits start early in school-age children

March 21, 2018
Bad sleep habits in children begin earlier than many experts assume. That's the takeaway from a new study led by McGill University researchers. The findings suggest that official sleep guidelines for young school children ...

Medical expansion has improved health—with one exception

March 21, 2018
While Americans debate the rising cost of health care, a new study of 30 countries over 27 years found that medical expansion has improved overall health - with one major exception.

Forgetting details, getting the gist may prompt false memories in older adults

March 21, 2018
Older adults often complain about forgetting, but Penn State psychologists suggest that another problem may be misremembering.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.