When the temperatures drop, the space heaters come out. Before plugging in or otherwise firing up your supplemental indoor heating, be sure you’re following some important safety practices.
Home heating fires are a significant cause of injuries. Between 2013-2015, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that:
- An average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred in the United States each year, with an annual average of approximately 205 deaths, 725 injuries and $506 million in property loss.
- Heating was the second leading cause of home fires after cooking.
- Home heating fires peaked in the early evening hours between 5 and 9 p.m. with the highest peak between 6 and 8 p.m.
- Confined fires — fires confined to chimneys, flues or fuel burners — accounted for 75 percent of home heating fires.
- Twenty-nine percent of the nonconfined home heating fires — fires that spread past the object of origin — happened because the heat source (like a space heater or fire place) was too close to things that can burn.
The National Fire Protection Association offers these best practices for staying warm and safe while indoors this winter:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
- Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
- Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
Although most of us don’t have fireplaces or wood stoves at our places of business, space heaters in office cubicles or shops are a common source of workplace fires. To ensure your team is staying safe, check out the fire prevention courses from our Summit Training Source library, including:
- Fire Safety
- Fire Safety for Construction
- Fire Protection & Prevention
- Fire Extinguisher Basics and Maintenance