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How fire safe is your heater? Different types and top tips

Lady wearing orange pyjamas with white spots leaning down to turn on heater.

The colder months have arrived, which means it’s your heater’s time to shine. With energy prices a topical (and sore) point at the moment, and many people working from home more regularly, you may find that a portable heater is a more efficient and cost effective way to keep you warm. 

Portable heaters are a good way to heat small spaces when you don’t need to heat the whole house. But what do we need to consider about portable heaters and fire safety? Heaters can be a serious fire hazard, especially when not used carefully.

We’ve listed our top dos and don’ts when using heaters, as well as some advice specific to different types of electric and gas heaters, so that you can avoid not only feeling chilly, but a serious incident too. 

Keep fire safe with portable heaters

You should always:

  • use your heater on a flat surface
  • give it some space - keep it at least one metre away from anything flammable
  • 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)
  • register the heater when you purchase it, so you’ll be made aware of any product recalls or safety information that might get released down the line.

You should never:

  • use any heaters that are faulty, or have broken or damaged wiring
  • use your heater to dry your washing
  • cover your heater (like we said, it needs some space).

The fire risk of emollients

Emollients are used to treat various skin conditions, and are extremely flammable. Therefore, when they’re absorbed into clothing and fabrics, they make the clothing and fabric much more likely to catch fire. This is another reason why heaters must be placed away from people, fabrics and furniture. Read more about emollients.

Different types of portable heaters

Regardless of your type of heater, the general rules above will always apply. Let’s look at a few different types as well though, so you can make the best and safest choice.

To summarise, oil filled radiators have the least fire risks, and portable gas heaters have the most. But whichever heater you use, you must be wary of the dangers and always follow our advice to use them safely.

We hope this information helps you to make an informed choice around which heater to invest in, or teaches you to use your existing heaters in a safer way.