Staying Safe with Propane Heaters

Staying Safe with Propane Heaters

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Topics: Propane Heaters

As winter gets closer, many of us will turn to an electric heater or propane heater to stay warm in the months ahead. While these little heaters can be a fantastic way to stay comfortable at home or enjoy the outdoors during the cold months, space heaters can also present safety risks if used improperly. You’ll always want to be sure to follow all manufacturer’s safety recommendations for any style of heater, but fuel-burning heaters usually require a little extra attention.

Warming Up Safely

Safety should be your first concern when it comes to portable heaters. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires are caused by the improper use of space heaters each year, resulting in roughly 3,000 deaths. Thousands more receive care for burns caused by space heaters. To keep you and your family from becoming a statistic, learn the ins and outs of the safety recommendations for your specific heater.

Both electric heaters (such as oil heaters and ceramic heaters) and fuel heaters (such as kerosene and propane heaters) need to be used in an appropriate environment. Typically, this means using electric heaters indoors and fuel heaters outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

However, you’ll want to be sure that any heater you use is safely positioned in its space. Give plenty of clearance for the heater, and do not place it anywhere near a flammable object. Be especially careful with curtains and drapes, as gusts could blow them towards or into a heater, causing a fire.

Anticipate any possible situations where an object could come into contact with your heater. Is there a nearby lamp that could be bumped over? Is there a tablecloth that could brush against the heater? Thinking ahead and giving your heater the maximum amount of space is a huge step towards preventing fires and burns.

Also, always be sure that your heater features an tip sensor, and that it is in good, working condition. These safety switches detect if the unit has been knocked over, and will immediately shut the heater elements down. Most modern heaters feature this life-saving sensor, so it may be best to replace older units that lack them.

Clearing the Air About Propane Heaters

As propane heaters create heat from burning fuel, there are a whole additional set of concerns when it comes to their use. While propane itself is basically a harmless gas, burning it inside a heater releases carbon monoxide into the air. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and can produce an asphixiation hazard. This is why you must always be sure to use fuel-burning heaters outdoors or in very well-ventilated spaces, such as patios, decks, garages, etc.

Wherever you’re using a propane heater, it’s a great idea to keep a carbon monoxide detector nearby. These can alarm you to dangerous concentrations of the gas well in advance. And don’t put too much confidence in so-called ventless gas heaters. While these heaters typically create less exhaust, even small traces of carbon monoxide can cause damage over time.

Regardless of the heater style you’ll be using to keep warm this winter, be certain that you’re operating it safely and that you have a the appropriate safety equipment on hand. A bit of caution upfront can save a trip to the ER later.

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