Furnaces & Space Heaters

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Modified on 2009/10/14 21:36 by admin
Millions of consumers rely on space heaters to warm their homes, and millions more use smaller heaters some portable, some gas and some electric to take the chill out of cold mornings. But many consumers fail to follow instructions or rules of safety, forgetting for a moment that death and serious injuries, including burns and carbon monoxide poisoning, strike thousands of Americans each year. The CPSC estimates that electric space heaters are associated with 2,400 fires resulting in 80 deaths, 240 injuries and $48.2 million in property loss annually. In 2003, there were about 10,900 residential fires and about 190 deaths associated with portable or fixed local heaters.

The CPSC recommends the following when using a furnace or space heater:


  • Consumers should hire a professional inspector to annually evaluate the safety of home furnaces, heaters and other carbon monoxide emitting appliances.
  • Heaters should be placed in locations away from flammable items, water sources and out of high traffic zones.
  • Choose a space 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, while 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. An automatic cut-off device is now required to turn off electric or kerosene heaters if they tip over. More guarding around the heating coils of electric heaters and the burner of kerosene heaters also is required to prevent fires. CPSC worked to upgrade the industry standard for unvented gas heaters to provide an oxygen depletion sensor to shut off the heater if the oxygen level drops too low. CPSC and industry amended the vented heater standard to provide a spill switch to turn off the heater if the vent is blocked or disconnected.
  • Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or heating element. 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, or other flammable materials.
  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Follow the manufacturers instructions to provide sufficient combustion air to prevent CO 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 a smoke alarm with fresh batteries on each level of the house and inside every bedroom. In addition, have a carbon monoxide alarm outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area.
  • Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment.
  • Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually.


If you have been seriously injured by a defective furnace or space heater, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect you legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.



See Also

  1. Dangerous Appliances & Electronics: Overview
  2. Cadet and Encore Heaters: Overview
  3. Burns: Overview
  4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Overview
  5. Scars: Overview
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