September 30, 2015

Division of Fire Safety urges Missourians to avoid dangers posed by space heaters and supplemental heating sources

As Fire Prevention Week approaches, DFS reminds public 7 fire deaths occurred in 5-day period last winter as Missourians turned to supplemental heating devices

The Missouri Division of Fire Safety is urging Missourians to understand the dangers posed by portable heaters and supplemental heating devices and take actions to prevent fire deaths and injuries as the home heating season begins. In February 2015, as temperatures dipped, seven Missourians died within five days in fires caused by supplemental heating devices.


“Space heaters are dangerous and potentially deadly if they are not used properly, and many Missourians do not understand the dangers these devices pose when they are not used properly,” said Acting State Fire Marshal Greg Carrell. “If you choose to use an electric or propane space heater or some other supplemental heating device, it’s absolutely essential that you follow the necessary precautions, especially around children and at night, when people are sleeping. This is a matter of life and death.”


Each year in early October, National Fire Prevention Week is observed. This year it runs Oct. 4-10 with the theme “Hear the beep where you sleep: every bedroom needs a working smoke alarm.” Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are also essential fire safety devices for all homes and are even more important when using supplemental heating devices.


Carrell urges the public to follow these safety precautions whenever heating equipment is used:


Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. The three-foot safety zone includes furniture, drapes, and electronics – anything that can burn.


Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.


Turn off portable heaters whenever leaving the room or going to bed.
Do not overload extension cords or outlets. Many extension cords and power strips are not designed to handle the load of an electric heater. Never place an electrical cord under a rug.
Never use an oven or other cooking devices to heat your home.
Make sure your home has working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by testing them monthly.


Carrell said home fires often grow so quickly and produce so much smoke that people are often overcome before they can respond. Working smoke alarms can alert family members to the danger, providing enough time to safely escape.


Everyone who uses space heaters should understand the following:


300 deaths and 25,000 fires each year are attributed to space heaters, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.


The Division of Fire Safety suggests creating and practicing a family fire safety plan that includes home fire escape routes and establishing a location outside the home where family members are to meet if they become separated.


For more safety information about safely using space heaters go to: