You may remember the tragedy of a Kentucky mother and her eight children being killed in a house fire a few years ago that was caused by a space heater. Unfortunately, space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
In a 2018 news release, the NFPA said heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Between 2011 and 2015, space heaters accounted for more than two of every five U.S. home heating fires and five out of six home heating fire deaths.
The winter months of December, January, and February are the leading months for home heating fires. As we approach the cold weather months, it is important to review proper safety precautions to prevent Kentucky space heater fires.
Small space heaters are typically used to supplement the main heating system. They may be used to heat one room and avoid the expense of operating a central heating system to heat an entire house. In some homes, a space heater is used to raise the temperature of specific rooms, such as those used by people sensitive to cold, like elderly individuals.
Most space heaters work by convection, which means they circulate warm air throughout a space. Some rely on radiant heating, which requires emitting infrared radiation that directly heats objects and people near the heater.
Radiant heaters are more efficient because they directly heat people and surroundings near the heater instead of heating the whole room. They work well in a single room that needs to be heated for only a few hours.
But, because radiant heaters heat nearby objects, they can ignite a fire if flammable materials are close to the heating element. The NFPA says more than half of all home heating fire deaths resulted from fires that began when a heater was positioned too close to things that burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.
Like any electrical device, electric heaters also pose a shock hazard. Whether radiant or convection heaters, electric heaters can cause a shock if components such as the cord, plug, or housing are damaged and allow exposure to electrical current. This could ignite a fire or cause an electrical burn. Electric heaters use a lot of energy and can easily overload circuits, causing a power failure or fire.
Heaters that use natural gas, propane, or kerosene can be dangerous if their fuel leaks and ignites. Propane and kerosene can cause asphyxiation if carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from the heaters are not properly vented.
Safety should be a top consideration if you choose to use a space heater this winter. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that portable electric heaters are involved in about 1,100 fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths, dozens of injuries, and millions of dollars in property loss.
Sometimes a space heater causes a fire, electrical shock, or carbon monoxide poisoning even though the user took all proper safety precautions. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured by defective products, including space heaters.
If a manufacturer produces products that are unsafe when used as instructed, or fails to adequately warn consumers about the possible dangers of using its products, the manufacturer can be held responsible for any personal injury or property damage its products cause. The victim of an unsafe product may be awarded compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and other losses to be paid by the manufacturer, designer, or seller of the faulty product.
The Becker Law Office can investigate a potential product liability case, and aggressively pursue compensation for anyone harmed by unsafe products.’ We take personal injury and product liability cases from across Kentucky and in Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.
Contact us today for your confidential, ‘FREE’ case evaluation. Take the first step toward obtaining justice.