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Do you ever wonder what caused a neighboring home in your area to catch fire? 

Heating equipment, such as space heaters, kerosene heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The term “homes” includes one-and two-family homes (including manufactured homes), apartments, townhouses and other multi-family dwellings.

During a recent four-year period, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment each year. The fires resulted in 500 civilian (non-first responder) deaths, 1,350 civilian injuries and $1.1 billion in direct property damage, according to NFPA’s Home Heating Fires report published in 2021.

In addition:

  • Heating equipment caused one in seven home fires and 19% of home fire deaths.
  • Most home heating fire deaths (81%) included stationary or portable space heaters.
  • More than half of the home heating fire deaths were caused by placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding.
  • Nearly half (48%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.
  • Failure to clean equipment, such as chimney flues, accounted for a quarter of all heating equipment fires.

In addition, approximately two in five home heating equipment fires involved items that ran on what is considered solid fuel, such as wood-burning or pellet stoves or wood-burning fireplaces. However, electric-powered heating devices were responsible for the largest share of losses, accounting for more than half of the fatalities, three in five injuries and two-fifths of the property damage.

Follow these safety tips to use space heaters safely:

  1. Read all instructions and use space heaters only as recommended.
  2. Do not leave space heaters unattended.
  3. Plug them directly into an outlet; most power strips and extension cords are not equipped to handle the energy spikes caused by space heaters cycling on and off.
  4. Unplug any other items from the outlet you are using and try to use a dedicated circuit to avoid overload.
  5. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  6. Turn the heaters off before you leave the room or go to sleep.
  7. Do not use heaters that are in disrepair or have frayed cords or damaged plugs.
  8. Place them on flat, level surfaces and never on furniture, counters or carpet, which can overheat.
  9. Unplug and put space heaters away (out of the reach of children) when not in use.

Use space heaters with care. For additional safety tips, visit