Kerosene Heater Safty Guidlines
kerosene heater is a portable, unvented, kerosene-fueled, space-heating device. In the United States they are used mainly for supplemental heat or as a source of emergency heat during a power outage. In some countries, particularly in Japan, they are used as the primary source of home heat. Most kerosene heaters produce between 3.3 and 6.8 kW (11000 to 23000 BTU per hour).
Kerosene heaters require no electricity to operate. Most heaters contain a battery-operated or piezo-electric ignitor to light the heater without the need for matches. If the ignitor should fail the heater can still be lighted manually.
Dramatic increases in home heating costs have resulted in a significant expansion in the sales and use of portable kerosene heaters. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates 3,500 heaters were sold in 1974 compared with an estimated 4.5 million in 1982. The CPSC also estimates there may be as many as 9 million kerosene heaters in use in consumers' homes. Of those, 5.5 million are unvented heaters.
Most portable kerosene heaters are similar in design. They include a wick so kerosene can be drawn from the tank to the combustion area, a device for igniting the wick, an automatic tip-over device designed to extinguish the wick if the unit is kicked or turned over and a fuel tank.
Manufacturers praise the units as a "new generation" of portable kerosene heaters because they are equipped with such features as battery-powered ignition devices, automatic extinguishing devices, fuel gauges, protective metal grills, leveling indicators, carrying handles, lift-out fuel canisters and decorator finishes. Many also have a wide base to prevent easy tip-over.
However, many fire officials, government agencies and safety specialists feel the heaters are not hazard-free and feel kerosene heaters present hazards not found with other heating systems. The major hazard is fire that could result from the use of gasoline instead of kerosene in the heater. Carelessness while refueling and improper storage of combustible liquids are also hazardous. Many health officials are also concerned about health hazards from the pollutants an unvented kerosene heater puts into the building.
Before purchasing or using a kerosene heater, consumers must learn the safety and maintenance procedures necessary to safely operate a kerosene heater.
Before you purchase a heater, make sure local building and fire codes permit its use in residential structures. Check with your insurance carrier to determine what impact the use of these heaters may have on your homeowner's policy.
To ensure the safe operation of the heater, every adult member of the family must become an informed consumer and operator. Adults should be aware of the equipment maintenance, safety considerations, operating procedures, emergency procedures and fuel storage requirements. Never allow children to operate the unit! The best source of information for the unit should be the owner's manual. Read, heed and follow the procedures and safety alerts in the owner's manual before you attempt to operate, service or perform maintenance on the unit.