Space heaters can be convenient when you want to keep a small, defined area warm, but they also present a burn injury hazard and a house fire hazard if they are not used safely and appropriately. A study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research reports that burn injuries are understandably higher during winter months, and that “the body part most commonly injured was the hand, which accounted for 33.3% of all burn injuries.”
Space heaters can also lead to fatal accidents. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home hires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Portable space heaters accounted for more than 43% of U.S. home fires and 85% of home heating fire deaths. Lorraine Carli, VP of NFPA’s outreach and advocacy division said, “space heaters can be effective tools for providing added warmth at home, but it is critical that people follow basic precautions to ensure that they are used safely.”
Because modern space heaters often feature a sleeker design, and have anti-tip characteristics, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that many consumers have a false sense of security when it comes to using space heaters because they can still be dangerous when they are not used appropriately. A space heater that gets warm enough to heat up a room will generate enough heat to ignite flammable materials located too close to its heating element. This can be especially dangerous for children or your pets, who won’t necessarily know not to touch, or get too near, the heater.
Causes of burn injuries from space heaters
The Burn Injury Foundation reminds consumers that they can become severely burned from the following:
- Direct contact with the heater’s surface
- Ignition of clothing or other flammable items such as bedding or drapes
- Using the wrong type of fuel
- Improper fueling practices
- Storing liquid fuel indoors
- Cooking or heating water on top of a space heater
Tips for the safe use of space heaters
The Electrical Safety Foundation International offers the following space heater safety tips:
- Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet from heat sources.
- NEVER leave a space heater burning unattended. Turn off when you leave the room or when you are sleeping.
- Always plug directly into a wall outlet.
- Place the space heater on a flat, level surface on the ground.
- Have a qualified service professional inspect your heating system annually.
- Do not use a space heater or any appliance with a damaged cord.
- Install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm and make sure that smoke alarms are installed and working as well.
If you have sustained a burn injury because of someone else’s negligence, or because of a defective space heater, one of our North Dakota burn injury attorneys can help you pursue compensation for your injuries and other losses.
You are welcome to contact the Minot burn injury lawyers at Larson Law Firm, P.C. to learn more about taking legal action after a burn injury that was caused by negligence. We also handle product liability claims. To schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney, please call 701-484-HURT, or fill out our contact form today.