Kerosene Heater Safety

If you plan to use a kerosene heater to help heat your home this winter, use extreme caution. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), supplemental heating equipment, such as a kerosene heater, is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. Home heating equipment trails only cooking equipment as the leading cause of home fires year-round.

How to Select a Kerosene Heater

Here are some things to look for when selecting a kerosene heater:

  • Only purchase a kerosene heater that has a recognized seal of approval such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
  • Be sure your kerosene heater has a battery operated lighting device. It eliminates the need for matches.
  • Kerosene heaters should have a safety shutoff device, which extinguishes the flame if the unit is jarred or tipped over.

Types of Kerosene Heaters

There are two types of portable kerosene heaters that you can use in your home: convective and radiant.

Convective heaters are usually circular in shape. 

  • Designed for large areas or even several rooms, but never for a small, closed area, such as a bedroom.
  • Allows warm air to circulate upward and outward in all directions.
  • Must be moved for refueling because they do not have a removable fuel tank. Be sure your convective model has a fuel gauge.

Radiant heaters are usually rectangular in shape. 

  • Designed for smaller areas.
  • Features a wick, combustion chamber and a reflector which directs heat at people or objects.
  • Some radiant heaters have electric fans to increase the flow of warm air.
  • Many (but not all) radiant models have a removable fuel tank, which means that the heater can stay in place. Only the fuel tank must be removed for each fueling.

Kerosene Heater Safety Tips

Some tips to safely using your kerosene heater, include:

  • Kerosene heaters require 1-K grade kerosene. Never use a substitute, such as gasoline or camp stove fuel. In kerosene heaters, such fuels will start a fire or explode.
  • Check the wick every week during the heating season. If it's dirty, clean it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Never attempt to move a lighted kerosene heater. Extinguish the flame and allow the heater to cool before moving.
  • Never refuel a kerosene heater inside or when the heater is still hot. Wait for it to cool.
  • Kerosene heaters have a constant open flame and should not be used in a room where there are flammable solvents, aerosol sprays, lacquers, gasoline, kerosene containers or any type of oil.
  • Keep kerosene heaters at least three feet away from all furniture, curtains, papers, clothes, bedding, and other combustible materials.
  • Keep children and pets away from kerosene heaters. Touching any part of an operating heater above the open flame could result in a serious burn.
  • Always turn off your kerosene heater when unattended and at night.
  • Never smoke when refueling a kerosene heater.
  • Clean up any kerosene spills immediately. Spills are a fire hazard.
  • Never store kerosene in a container previously used to store other liquids. Be sure the container is suitable for kerosene storage and properly marked.

Protect Your Home in Case of a Fire

If you heat your home with a kerosene heater, you may have a greater risk of fire. Learn more about the dwelling fire insurance and property insurance Farm Bureau Insurance offers our South Carolina members. Our local agents offer quick, quality customer service. Find out more today.