Despite falling temperatures, you can comfortably enjoy some outdoor time in the winter thanks to patio heaters. However, a patio heater is also a potential fire hazard. Between 2012 and 2016 alone, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) responded to an annual average of over 52,000 domestic fires caused by heating equipment and at least 490 deaths per year. This shows just how dangerous your patio heater can get and why you should put safety measures into place before using them. Here are five patio heater safety tips to get you started.
Choose a Safe Location
Patio heaters are only suitable for outdoor use because they are mostly gas-fueled, emitting carbon-monoxide gas which is lethal to human beings. Always use your heater in a wide outdoor space where there is enough oxygen to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You should place it firmly on the ground and add some support for stability purposes. Additionally, since 54% of domestic fires result from placing heaters near combustible materials, ensure you don’t place your patio heater near anything that can burn, says the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). Position it away from buildings, entrances, and exits, and only use it when the weather is calm.
Be Careful with Gas Cylinders
Though rare, gas cylinder explosions can happen and cause devastating effects in your home or workplace. This means that you should only use cylinders that meet the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Ensure you always replace the gas cylinder on your patio heater when there are no people present. When not in use, store the gas cylinders outdoors and away from exits such as doors, windows, and stairways.
Double-Check the Design Features
Sophisticated safety features play a large role in minimizing the risk of using a patio heater. That’s why you should first ensure that the heater meets safety standards before using it. For instance, some heaters have an automatic shutoff system that turns off the gas supply in case the levels of oxygen in the surrounding atmosphere drop below a certain threshold, as reported by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Some of the safety features you should check include:
- Shield covering the heating element to prevent contact
- Tip-over switch to cut the gas supply in case the heater tilts beyond a certain angle
- Condition of the parts to look for damaged or excessive weathering
With all parts in good condition and the safety features functional, you will be able to use your patio heater more safely. Ensure that only responsible adults operate the patio heater. Finally, conduct preventive maintenance on the heater to ensure that any possible problem is solved in time to prevent hazards.
Avoid Electric Patio Heaters in a Restaurant Setting
Patio heaters also come in handy in providing warmth to restaurant users. If you intend to use one this winter, it is often best to avoid electric heaters since the cords can be a potential tripping hazard. Alternatively, you could suspend smaller electric heaters that don’t pose a risk to the people around you.
Follow these five patio heater safety tips to enjoy your patio heater safety this winter. Additionally, purchase the right home coverage for your needs and property. At CAV Insurance in Wellesley, MA, we work with companies like Chubb and Pure who offer a broad range of protection to help keep your home and family safe with reliable homeowners insurance. Contact us on 781-237-4107 to get started.