NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2007
CPSC Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contacts: (301) 504-7908
Winter Storms Causing Consumers to Reach for Supplemental Heating
CPSC Warns of Deadly Fire and CO Dangers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With winter storms and cold weather impacting much
of the country, the need for supplemental heating is on the rise.
Continued reports of deaths and injuries associated with alternative
heating products prompts the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC) again to warn consumers to exercise extreme caution when using
space heaters, kerosene heaters, and fireplaces.
On January 17, a 1-year-old, Westmoreland, N.Y., girl was killed when a
space heater in her room ignited a fire. Her mother, while trying to
rescue the child, received burns to her hands, arms and face. In another
recent incident, a Tarrant City, Ala., couple was killed when embers
from their fireplace ignited a fire that spread throughout the home.
“There are nearly 25,000 fires and 140 deaths on average each year from
portable heaters, fireplaces and chimneys,” said CPSC Acting Chairman
Nancy Nord. “Use these products properly and have working smoke and
carbon monoxide alarms to help keep your family safe this winter.”
Home heating equipment is one of the most common causes of residential
structure fires, second only to cooking fires. Portable heaters,
including space heaters, are the leading cause of deaths in home heating
equipment-related fires. Space heaters can cause fires if they are
placed too close to flammable materials such as drapes, furniture or
bedding. Fireplaces can cause fires if the chimney is cracked, blocked
or coated with creosote, or if sparks and embers reach flammable
Also, carbon monoxide (CO) from gasoline-powered generators that may be
used during winter weather-related power outages can kill in minutes.
Consumers should never use a generator, charcoal or gas grill in an
enclosed area. In addition, fuel-burning appliances can cause carbon
monoxide poisoning if they are improperly installed, poorly maintained,
have defective or blocked venting systems, or are misused.
To help prevent deaths and injuries, CPSC urges consumers to:
Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal
burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
Install battery-operated CO and smoke alarms in your home. Locate CO
alarms outside the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area. Locate smoke
alarms on each level of the house and inside every bedroom.
Replace smoke and CO alarm batteries in the spring and fall when you
change the time on your clocks.
If an alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.
Seek medical attention immediately if you are feeling dizzy, lightheaded
or nauseous. These are symptoms of CO poisoning.
Have flues and chimneys inspected before each heating season for leakage
and blockage by creosote (an oily deposit that readily ignites) or
Open the fireplace damper before lighting the fire and keep it open
until the ashes are cool. Never close the damper if the ashes are still
warm. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside
Store fireplace ashes in a fire resistant container and cover it with a
Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles.
Never use flammable liquid to start a fire.
Place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as
ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and
other flammable materials. Keep children and pets away from space
To reduce the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to
sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn the
space heater off if you leave the area. Never use extension cords to
power electric heaters.
Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards
and certified by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These
heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features. A newer gas space
heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen
levels fall too low.
NEVER burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers.
Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
Consumers who would like more information can view or receive the
CPSC booklets: “What You Should Know about Space Heaters,” on our Web
site at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/463.html or send a postcard to
“Space Heater Booklet,” CPSC, Washington, DC 20207; and “What to Know:
CO and Generators,” at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/468.html or send
a postcard to “CO and Generator Postcard” CPSC, Washington, DC 20207.
To see this release on CPSC’s web site, including pictures of the
recalled products, please go to:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting
the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more
than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction.
Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents
cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed
to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire,
electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The
CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys,
cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals -
contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of
deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s
hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or
visit CPSC’s web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email
subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.asp. Consumers can
obtain this release and recall information at CPSC’s Web site at