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Can a Space Heater Cause a Fire?

Yes, a space heater can cause a fire. Space heaters are involved in a significant number of home heating fires every year. The leading cause of space heater fires is placing the heater too close to objects that can burn, such as furniture, drapery, and clothing. Major fires can result quite easily from an ignition sparked by a space heater left unattended.

Fire Hazards of Space Heaters

Space heaters can be a serious fire hazard, especially when not used carefully. They should always be used on a flat surface and kept at least one metre away from anything flammable. It's also important to buy heaters brand new from a trustworthy retailer, and if possible, buy one with a trip switch. This means it will switch off if knocked over.

Electric Shock and Space Heaters

If space heaters are not functioning properly, they can cause electric shock. This is particularly a risk with older models or heaters that have not been properly maintained. Therefore, it's important to make sure the unit has no broken or malfunctioning parts.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Space Heaters

Certain types of space heaters that use propane, kerosene, and natural gas come with the additional risk of releasing carbon monoxide if not properly vented. Unlike gas or propane furnaces and fireplaces, their space heater counterparts aren't vented to the outside, and so they can release harmful gases into the air that include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide, all of which can cause symptoms including headaches, coughing, sleepiness, and even death.

Safety Tips for Using Space Heaters

Despite these risks, space heaters can be used safely by following some simple guidelines:


In conclusion, while space heaters can be convenient for providing extra warmth during cold weather, they should be used with caution due to the potential dangers they pose. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines when using a space heater.

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