A few days ago, I tried to plug my portable heater. For a second, it turned on, and then it turned off!  I tried it on different outlets to no avail.  After calling the company, they said to ship it back to them and they would send me a new one.  I figured out the cost of shipping at $38, compared to the cost of a new heater at $89, and sent the portable heater on a holiday trip to Texas.
I just welcomed the new unit from the mail, but the experience got me thinking about portable heaters and how many fires they cause a year.  Here are some answers to my questions....
Based on 2007-2011 annual averages:
  • Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (28%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.
  • Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (53%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • Half (50%) of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.
Source: NFPA's “Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment" report by John R. Hall, Jr., October 2013. 

So now we know! Of course, after the heater incident, I woke up to a 48 degree house. Trust me, I understand the impulse to heat my room with the space heater. I was so glad I knew the statistics – where I would want the heater would be close to the bed skirt, the closet, the curtains, or countless other places that could burn. I know the risk, and it’s not worth the comfort.
Here’s wishing everyone a warm, safe Thanksgiving!
Robin Hoy, PuroClean Restoration Services, Cranford NJ