RVelectricity: Space heaters account for 43 percent of U.S. home heating fires

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By Mike Sokol

Industry Update – Portable heater safety

Everyone…
If you don’t believe me about the dangers of portable space heaters, then look at this report from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association – the keepers of the National Electrical Code) about space heater fires and deaths in the U.S. While this report is primarily for sticks-and-bricks homes, one can imagine that RVs won’t be any more fire-resistant than the average house. So if you must heat your RV with a space heater, please read the following report and recommendations carefully.

Editor’s update: On November 30, seven people were displaced from their home in Roanoke, Virginia, after a fire started from improper use of a space heater. No one was injured. On November 29, a fire caused by a space heater too close to combustibles burned a trailer, cars and outbuildings, in Pasco, Washington. A man escaped with minor burns to his face. There was no smoke detector in the trailer.


NFPA reports that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. More than half (53 percent) of all home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that began when heating equipment was too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

The National Fire Protection Association’s latest U.S. Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment report was released December 2018, which is the latest full year the data was collected.

The NFPA reports that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. More than half (53 percent) of all home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that began when heating equipment was too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.

December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires, and the colder weather means more use of portable space heaters. According to the report, portable and stationary space heaters accounted for more than two of every five (43 percent) U.S. home heating fires and five out of six (85 percent) home heating fire deaths between 2011 and 2015.

“Space heaters can be effective tools for providing added warmth at home, but it’s critical that people follow basic precautions to ensure that they’re used safely,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of NFPA’s Outreach and Advocacy division.

The following are important home heating safety tips to help reduce the risk of home fires during winter:

  • Space heaters should be placed at least three feet away from anything that can burn
  • There should be a three-foot kid-and-pet-free zone around open fires and space heaters
  • Space heaters must be turned off when people leave the room or go to sleep
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time
  • Never use your oven to heat your home
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning
  • If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional
  • 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.

    By Jessica Davis, Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media / Jan. 11, 2018

— Mike

Let’s play safe out there….

 

 

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

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Jim Collins

We use a silicone filled baseboard type heater, and for years we used the old style oil filled in our home, no chance of catching anything on fire

Darrel

We buy electric heaters with both a low and a high setting. We use them only on the low setting, and never with a extension cord. The cord never gets warm, and I see very little danger as we are careful with placement.

I fail to see how this is more risky than propane furnaces or other heating sources.

We do replace our smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and propane detector on schedule.

Jeff

Personally and for what it is worth, I don’t care what kind of UL Rating or other Safety Rating Space Heaters have attached to them, they are extremely dangerous and it is WHY I have NEVER owned one and WILL NEVER own one!

They simply are not worth the RISK of owning them!