FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2004
Release # 05-067
CPSC Consumer Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contacts: Ken Giles, (301) 504-7052
CPSC Warns Of Hazards from Heaters and Fireplaces
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
reminds consumers to follow safety precautions when purchasing and using
electric or fuel-fired heaters and fireplaces. "Most of the deaths and
injuries from heaters and fireplaces happen in the winter months," said
CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Every home needs working smoke alarms and a
carbon monoxide alarm."
In a recent year, there were about 10,900 residential fires and about
190 deaths associated with portable or fixed space heaters. There were
15,500 fires and 40 deaths associated with fireplaces and chimneys. In
addition, an average of about 85 people die each year from carbon
monoxide poisoning caused by heating systems, ranges/ovens and water
Heaters can cause fires if they are placed too close to flammable
materials such as drapes, furniture or bedding. Fireplaces can cause
fires if the chimney is cracked, blocked or coated with creosote, or if
sparks and embers can reach flammable materials. Fuel-burning appliances
can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are improperly installed,
poorly maintained, have compromised venting systems, or are misused.
Heater safety tips:
*Use a heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and
certified by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These heaters
will have the most up-to-date safety features; older space heaters may
not meet the newer safety standards. CPSC worked to upgrade industry
standards for electric, kerosene and vented and unvented gas space
heaters. Kerosene heaters are required to have an automatic cut-off
mechanism that will extinguish the flame if the unit tips over. Most
electric heaters also have a similar mechanism to turn the unit off.
More guarding around the heating coils of electric heaters and the
burner of kerosene heaters also is required to prevent fires. Unvented
gas space heaters require oxygen depletion sensors to help prevent
carbon monoxide production from inefficient combustion.
*Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs
or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep the heater at least three
feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
*Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented
fuel-burning space heater. Make sure your heater meets current safety
standards to shut off if oxygen levels fall too low. Make sure your
heater is correctly rated for your home. An oversized heater could
deplete the available oxygen, causing excess carbon monoxide to be
produced. Keep a window in the room open at least one inch to ensure
proper ventilation. This helps prevent pollutant build-up and promotes
proper combustion. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to provide
sufficient combustion air to prevent carbon monoxide production.
*NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep. Never place a space
heater close to any sleeping person.
*Turn the space heater off if you leave the area. Keep children and pets
away from space heaters.
*Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually to ensure proper
*Do not use a kitchen range or oven to heat your house because it could
overheat or generate excessive carbon monoxide.
*Be aware that mobile homes require specially-designed heating
equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired equipment should be used.
*Have a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house,
inside every bedroom, and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area. In
addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each
separate sleeping area.
Fireplace safety tips:
*Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for
leakage and blockage by creosote or debris.
*Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open
until the ashes are cool. Never close the damper before going to bed if
the ashes are still warm. An open damper will prevent build-up of
poisonous gases inside the home, especially while the family is
*Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or other fuel to light or relight
a fire because the vapors can explode. Never keep flammable fuels or
materials near a fire. Never store flammable liquids in your home.
*Never use charcoal in a fireplace because of the risk of carbon
*Keep a screen or glass enclosure around a fireplace to prevent sparks
or embers from igniting flammable materials.
Consumers who would like more information can view a free CPSC booklet,
"What You Should Know about Space Heaters", or receive it by sending a
postcard to "Space Heater Booklet," CPSC, Washington, DC 20207.
View this press release online at