Kerosene Heater Safety Tips
While some kerosene heaters are currently legal, Fire Department DOES NOT RECOMMEND their use based upon incidence of fire and potential fire hazards.
- Purchasing Tips
- How to Correctly Operate your Kerosene Heater
- Detection and Escape
- Buy a modern heater that has been tested and approved by one or more of the recognized testing agencies such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM). Make sure that the dealer demonstrates it for you. Also make sure that the dealer can service the heater and has parts readily available. The heater is only as good as the service and repair it receives.
- The heater should have low center of gravity to make accidental tip overs unlikely.
- Heaters must have a safety shutoff device which automatically snuffs out the flame if the heater is tipped. Ask your dealer to demonstrate what happens if the heater is tipped over.
- A fuel gauge should be provided to prevent overfilling or unnecessary refilling. A siphon pump provided by the kerosene heater dealer will help prevent accidental fueling spills.
- When purchasing a kerosene heater, check with the dealer for the BTU rating which is the appropriately sized unit for the area you wish to heat.
How to Correctly Operate your Kerosene Heater
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for correct operation and maintenance of the heater. Keep the instruction booklet available for future reference.
- Use only Grade K-1 kerosene. It should be as clear as water. Yellow or colored kerosene will smoke, emit unpleasant odors, and damage the operation of the wick on the heater.
- Never use additives designed to purify kerosene. These additives have not been proved effective, and in fact in many cases they are highly flammable and dangerous liquids.
- Never use gasoline, camp stove fuel or other flammable liquids in your kerosene heater.
- Kerosene should be stored in a vented metal container with a tight fitting lid. It should be clearly marked FOR KEROSENE USE ONLY. Never use a red container or any container that has had a flammable liquid in it. For safe storage, never keep kerosene near any source of heat or ignition.
- Provide adequate ventilation. This can be done either by opening a door to an adjacent room or by leaving a window open.
- Place the heater away from curtains, furniture and other combustibles. Make sure that it is not blocking an exit or walkway.
- Kerosene heater surfaces are very hot. Severe burns will occur if these surfaces are touched. Keep small children away from the heater and instruct them not to touch the controls.
- Since kerosene heaters have an open flame, do not use flammable solvents, lacquers, aerosol sprays or gasoline in the same room.
- When turning the heater off, make sure the flame is extinguished before leaving the area or retiring for the night. NEVER leave a heater ‘on’ while unattended.
- Refill the heater outside when the unit is cool. Use a siphon pump to prevent spillage. NEVER refuel heater while it is burning.
The majority of fires and casualties relating to kerosene heaters have resulted from the abuse and misuse of the heater by the operator. Make sure to retain the manufacturer’s instructions and these safety tips, and review this information before each heating season and from time to time during the season.
Detection and Escape
- Install a smoke detector outside the bedroom areas on the ceiling and on every level of your home.
- Have a fire escape plan and have the whole family practice it.
- If a fire should start, GET OUT AND STAY OUT, call 911 from your neighbor’s house