Safety and Fire Prevention for Space Heaters

Winter weather in the Chesapeake Bay area is unpredictable at best. It is not uncommon to see temperatures drop as much as 20 degrees in 24 hours. Residents may try to combat high energy bills by utilizing space heaters. These heaters can also boost the temperatures in particular rooms used by individuals who are sensitive to cold, such as infants or the elderly.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.

Space heaters are classified as vented and unvented or “vent-free.” Unvented combustion units are never recommended for use inside your home. They introduce unwanted combustion products into the living space—including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and water vapor—and deplete air in the space. States have even begun to ban unvented kerosene and natural gas heaters for use in the home.

Ace Hardware in Cape St. Claire carries many alternative options to heat your home and save money. The service professionals at Ace take the safety of their customers very seriously. While they desire their clientele be able to save money on energy bills, they warn about being careless while using space heaters.

Here are some safety and fire prevention tips, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, to consider while using space heaters and other alternative heat sources:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 monthly.

For more information about fire safety and fire prevention codes:

You can visit your Fire Marshal Division Office to view NFPA codes and standards. Just be aware that you will not be permitted to remove them from the office or make copies. You may purchase copies of the NFPA Codes and Standards online or by calling 1-800-344-3555.

The knowledgeable staff at Ace Hardware in Cape St. Claire is also a great resource for fire prevention safety. If you have any questions, please visit us and we can help you figure out the safest, most energy efficient space heater or alternative heat source for this winter. We care about our customers and feel they have made us the best hardware store in Annapolis.