Heater Safety

Heater Safety is very important. I mean, it’s very boring, but it’s very important – like Maths or Politics. So we’ll try and keep this as sweet as we can while getting the important points across. This isn’t a definitive list, so remember to read any safety instructions provided with any heater too. We’re not trying to scare you off buying a lovely paraffin heater – we’ve been using them daily for almost a decade without incident. However, like using say, a microwave – there are some things you need to know to stop avoidable incidents occurring.

We’re going to look at

  • Fire Safety
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Burns
  • Breathing
  • Christmas
  • Maintenance
  • and Storing Fuel


Fire Safety

Heaters

A close up of a burning fire, which is dark in the foreground with lapping yellow flames on top. Above, the yellow flames are becoming orange and brown and there is a large amount of smoke. Photo by Raquel Raclette

Your heater has one main job. To heat the place up. Don’t be a goomba and leave something that generates heat pointing at curtains, furniture or jayneymac – at a bottle of fuel. This really feels like it’s obvious. Heat makes things hot. If hot things get too hot, they’re gonna ignite. If things burst into flames, you’re gonna have to start a whole new beanie baby collection and let’s be honest, they’re not making many Princess Diana commemorative Beanie Babies anymore.

Top Tips for avoiding a fire

  • Avoid putting your heater on the carpet.
  • Don’t put it to close to any furniture (the couch, curtains, etc.)
  • Don’t put it on an uneven surface or in a doorway, where it is more likely to get knocked over.
  • If it’s a Wick Heater, don’t put flammable materials like the instruction manual, or clothes that you need drying on top of it.
  • Keep an eye on the fuel gauge there when you’re filing it. Try and avoid spilling fuel.
  • Mop up any spillages as soon as possible
  • Don’t leave any heater unattended for too long

Fire Extinguishers for Heaters

Alright. So you’ve pointed it at the couch and now a small fire has broken out.
There’s no benefit in pointing fingers at this stage. You’re going to want to reach for the fire extinguisher, right? Right. But which one?

You need a Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguisher for all Paraffin heaters.
These are red fire extinguishers with a black panel above the operating instructions.
A Class B Fire extinguisher is the only fire extinguisher than should be used on flammable fuels.

A picture of the recommended Fire extinguisher. It is red, with a black sign on it that reads 'CO2 Fire extinguisher'. It is against a white backdrop and the nozzle is pointing to the left.

We strongly recommend that you purchase a fire extinguisher as soon as you purchase a heater.

Burns

Burns are minus craic. A bad burn will linger with you like a bad pint will linger in the lower stomach. Wick heaters can cause burns by touching them in the wrong spot (i.e. placing your hand on top while it’s in operation). So if you have a Wick Heater, consider getting a fireguard to prevent children, pets or people not paying attention from burning themselves on the heater.

If you or someone you know has burned themself, the HSE has some good tips on treating burns here.

Breathing

Paraffin Heaters consume oxygen as they burn. In doing so, they produce things like carbon dioxide or nitrogen dioxide. Like your cousin who had trials for Liverpool in the 80s, it’s presence is harmless to endure in small doses. However, over-exposure to either of these can be a serious issue. We strongly recommend that you get yourself a carbon monoxide alarm installed in any room that you use a heater in. Some of our heaters like the Inverter, have one built-in!

It’s always advisable that you have good ventilation in any area where you’re using a heater – and provided that you do, these heaters are perfectly safe for indoor usage.

Remember: Fuel-burning heaters are not recommended to be used by Asthmatics, pregnant women or the very young.
Fan assisted heaters especially as they push out air (with a fan, surprisingly) and this can disturb particles in the room, leading to irritation or asthma attacks.

 

Christmas

Christmas is peak heater usage time. As Bart Simpson learned the hard way – Christmas trees are highly flammable, so be careful.

Bart Simpson looking on a Christmas Tree on fire. The walls are pink, bart is in his green pyjamas and a large orange flame is consuming the entire tree, which illuminates the room. The presents are red, pink and blue all wrapped with green bows.

It shouldn’t be all that surprising; they’re made of wood, covered in spray-painted decorations and they regularly have electric lights all over them. So it should go without saying that you shouldn’t point your heater (or place your heater) under a Christmas Tree. Similarly, don’t put your Christmas presents in the direct line of heat (unless you want a Picasso inspired selection box).

 

Maintenance

Looking after your heater can help you in the long run – both in terms of safety and financially.

For Wick Heaters – make sure your fuel is topped up regularly and avoid letting your wick go dry. A dry wick will burn out and you’ll need to replace it.
For Fan-Assist Heaters – make sure you clean out the vent at the back regularly

For both – keep them clean and tidy. Dust and oils on the top aren’t just unsightly, they’re potential fire hazards. General maintenance is advised, but don’t spray any flammable chemicals onto the heater as you clean!

Storing Fuel

Storing Fuel is also very important. Our Tozane has a high flash point, so while it’s safer to store than other fuels, there are still some safety considerations you should be aware of when storing it.

  • Always securely close your fuel bottle when not in use. Water droplets inside a bottle of fuel can cause problems with your heater – particularly fan assisted one.
  • For the same reason, don’t leave your pump where it can be affected by water either.
  • Condensation can cause water to form in bottles of water. Keep an eye on where you store your fuel and make sure that it’s not liable to condensation.
  • Make sure your fuel is not in direct sunlight, or where light can be magnified onto it (through glass etc)
  • It is advisable to install a smoke alarm where you store your fuel.
  • Ensure that your fuel is not in a place where children can access it easily.

 

And there we go. As we said before, this isn’t a definitive list and always read any safety advice provided by the heater or fuel manufacturers. If you’ve any questions, you can leave a comment here or get in touch on Facebook. We’ll do our best to get your question answered as quickly as possible.

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