Portable heaters provide solutions to heating in multiple locations. They are quick and simple to operate and will provide good service if they are used carefully and sensibly. However, any type of portable heater can start a fire if it is misused.
Follow these common sense guidance to improve your fire safety with portable heaters
Portable heaters (all types):
- Always follow the manufacturers operating and maintenance instructions. Keep them clean and serviced regularly. Pay special attention following a period of storage or after a seasonal break.
- Ventilate rooms where the heater is to be used
- Ensure a permanent safety guard is fitted. If the heater is to be used in one place, fix it securely to a floor or a wall.
- Turn off portable heaters before going to bed at night
- Do not move the heater while it is alight or switched on
- Do not stand or sit too close, your clothing may melt or ignite
- Do not place a heater too close to furniture, bedding, or curtains
- Do not place heaters where they can be knocked over
- Do not operate a heater from where a door could open on to it
- Do not air, or dry clothing on heaters
- Do not leave portable heaters on if young children or pets are left unattended
- Do not use flammable adhesives, cleaning fluids or aerosol sprays near a heater
- Remember that fumes given off from some products are heavier than air and will travel some distance
Portable Electrical Heaters
- Buy a heater which carries the mark of the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB)
- Keep flexes as short as possible. Position the flex so that it will not cause a trip hazard, ensure it will not pass under doors or carpets. Never operate with worn or damaged flex.
- Ensure that the flex is not exposed to the heat from the appliance or from high temperatures from other sources
- Check and fit the correct rated fuse in the plug
- Plug the heater directly into the mains socket and avoid using multi-way adaptors. Unplug when not in use.
- Do not control a radiant heater with a timer switch or a thermostat unless fitted as an integral part of the heater
Portable Gas Heaters
There are now many forms of powerful domestic heaters available, which are fuelled by liquid petroleum Gas (LPG).
- Buy a heater that carries the kitemark of The British Standards Institution
- Ensure a CORGI qualified person services the appliance regularly
- Change cylinders in the open air. If this is not possible then open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Extinguish other heaters and all other ignition sources, eg cigarettes and pilot lights on cookers. Keep smokers away.
- Never change a cylinder on a stairway or on an escape route
- Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is fully closed before disconnecting the heater. Do not turn on valve of the new cylinder until the heater is securely reconnected.
- If you suspect a leak do not operate the heater. Remove it to a safe place outside the building. Brush soapy water onto the flexible hoses and valve assembly. This will show any leak by ‘bubbling’. The equipment should not be used until all leaks have been rectified by replacing faulty parts in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
- Take extra care with small camping heaters designed for use with a pierceable cartridge. Before removing it, ensure the cartridge is empty and the heater valve in the off position. Check that the sealing washer is intact before fitting the new cartridge.
- Store spare cylinders separate to the heater in use. Keep them outside and in an upright position. Never store them in basements or cupboards under the stairs, or near to electrical switchgear or meters.
- If you use a portable gas heater, please bear in mind that for every KG of gas used, one litre of water will be given off which will form as condensation, may cause issues with damp and mould, and may lead to further health issues.
A Halogen heater is a lightweight device that can be plugged into an electrical source and provide warmth in enclosed areas. It uses halogen elements rather than electrical coils. They should not be placed too close to combustible materials and should be at least one meter away from chairs and armchairs if being used. Most halogen heaters are equipped with a casing that remains cool to touch, as well as an automatic shut down in the event that the device is accidentally tipped over. There is a decreased chance of any occupant or space getting burned or the device tipping over and causing a fire and is a safer option then some heating devices. However, like all sources of heat care should still be taken whilst using them to heat your home.