fema fire safety

Frigid winter weather makes portable space heaters a hot commodity!

However, these warming devices pose serious fire risks. An estimated 900 portable heater fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, causing 70 deaths, 150 injuries and $53 million in property loss.

Portable heater fires peak in January and most occur because they are too close to items that can burn. 38 percent of home portable heater fires originate in bedrooms, often igniting bedding, such as blankets, sheets and comforters.

All heating equipment needs space. Prevent portable heater fires by keeping flammable items at least three feet away. Supervise children whenever a wood stove or space heater is being used, maintaining a three-foot “kid-free” zone around open fires and space heaters.

Heaters are not dryers or tables – don’t dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. Plug space heaters directly into wall outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip. Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use.

Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – make sure you only choose the best rated propane heaters. Check if it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.

Check out this video on portable heater fire safety from FEMA.