Fire Safety

How can you keep safe from portable heater fire risks?

As the weather turns colder and with many of us still working from home, London Fire Brigade warns of the dangers of increased fire risk related to the use of portable heaters.

Portable electrical heaters can be an easy way to keep warm inside, especially if you’re looking to only heat one room or want to avoid switching on your central heating.

However, these portable heaters carry high fire risk.

The London Fire Brigade says in the last five years it has attended more than 1,200 fires caused by these types of heaters, with 14 of these fires being fatal.

In 2021, there has been 160 heating-related fires in London alone resulting in more than 20 people suffering injuries.

What are the common causes of heater fires?

portable heater fire risks

As we approach winter and the temperature continues to drop, many individuals are spending more time indoors with heaters switched on to take the chill out of the air.

But if portable heaters are used to dry clothes or are left too close to items such as bedding, blankets or paperwork, they can catch light and cause a fire.

People with mobility issues are especially at risk of tripping or falling onto a heater – making placing heaters at a safe distance all the more important.

However, fires involving heaters can be prevented by taking sensible precautions.

Use heaters safely with these 9 tips from firefighters

  1. Make sure heaters are well maintained and in good working order.
  2. Check that your heater isn’t on a recall list – there have been many fires in the past year connected to heaters that have been recalled.
  3. Never install, repair or service appliances yourself. Make sure anyone who does is registered with the Gas Safe Register (for gas appliances), the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (for solid fuel appliances), or the Oil Firing Technical Association (for oil appliances).
  4. Don’t take risks with old heaters – if it’s electrical and getting older, get it tested by a qualified electrician or buy a new one.
  5. Where appropriate, secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters.
  6. Keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  7. Always sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair.
  8. Before attempting to move your heater, turn it off and allow it to cool first.
  9. Ensure you have working smoke and heat alarms installed in your home and test regularly.

Know the risk of carbon monoxide

Some kinds of heaters also present a carbon monoxide (CO) risk, which can be fatal. Known as ‘The Silent Killer’, CO is a highly poisonous gas which cannot be seen, smelt or tasted.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, it can make you drowsy and less able to escape. The only way to be alerted to carbon monoxide is by placing an audible CO alarm 1-3 metres away from any fuel-burning appliance or in highly populated areas such as bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms.

Keep safe, warm and protected this winter with FireAngel

portable heater fire risks

If you’re using a portable heater to warm your home this winter, make sure you’re taking sensible steps to stay safe indoors. Keep loved ones protected by ensuring you have smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms in place to alert you as soon as possible should an incident occur.

As the trusted technology fitted by UK Fire & Rescue Services since 2007, view our range of fire safety products designed to protect UK homes including our Pro Connected range of smart alarms.