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Space Heater Fire Statistics & Facts (Updated in 2022)

space heater

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Space heaters are a common appliance in any home, but they are also a common cause of fires. In fact, space heaters are responsible for the vast majority of residential fires. Although space heaters are becoming safer, they still pose a huge threat to the safety and well-being of those around the nation.

Here is a look at updated space heater fires statistics and facts for 2022.

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13 Space Heater Fire Statistics

  1. Heating equipment is the number one cause of household fires in the US.
  2. It is estimated that 21,800 residential fires are caused by space heaters every year.
  3. 32% of all home heating fires are caused by space heaters specifically.
  4. 24% of space heater fires occur whenever the heater is placed too close to fabric.
  5. Of all fire-related deaths, 80% of them are caused by space heaters.
  6. About 300 people die from fires caused by space heaters every year.
  7. Space heaters and other similar heating appliances have caused over $1 billion in property damage.
  8. Nationwide alone paid out $48 million in space heater claims.
  9. December through February is when most space-heater-related fires occur.
  10. There are simple ways that you can protect yourself from space heater fires.
  11. Space heaters are getting safer and safer.
  12. Fuel-burning space heaters are the most dangerous.
  13. It only takes 3 minutes for a fire to escalate out of hand.

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Space Heater Fire Frequency, Consequences, and Other Facts

1. Heating equipment is the number one cause of household fires in the US.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the number one cause of fires is fixed or portable space heaters. It is estimated that as much as 44% of fires are caused by space heaters every year.

Following space heater fires, fireplaces and chimneys are the second most common cause. They are responsible for 29% of fires. Central heating units and water heaters make up the remaining fires.

(National Fire Protection Association)

woman using space heater
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

2. It is estimated that 21,800 residential fires are caused by space heaters every year.

Although percentages are helpful in helping you to understand how many fires are caused by space heaters, actual numbers can be more helpful.

When looking at hard numbers, about 21,800 residential fires are specifically caused by space heaters every single year.

(United States Consumer Product Safety Commission)


3. 32% of all home heating fires are caused by space heaters specifically.

Whenever studies look at common causes of fires, they normally include a category called “home heating fires.”

Home heating fires include all fires that are caused by heating appliances, including space heaters, heating units, fires, and any other appliance used for the purpose of heating.

Despite there being countless heating appliances used, 32% of home heating fires are always caused by space heaters. This shows just how dangerous space heaters are, even when you look at other home heating appliances.

(Missouri Department of Public Safety)

house on fire
Image Credit: Sean Thomforde, Shutterstock

4. 24% of space heater fires occur whenever the heater is placed too close to fabric.

Space heater fires can occur for a number of reasons. However, studies have found that 24% of home heating fire deaths are caused whenever a space heater is placed too close to fabric items, like clothing, bedding, furniture, and mattresses.

For this reason, nearly a quarter of all home heating fires occur because people are irresponsible in the placement of space heaters.

(Space Heater Involvements with Fabric Fires Gov Info)


5. Of all fire-related deaths, 81% of them are caused by space heaters.

Fires are deadly within the home. Although all fires have the propensity for death, space heater fires tend to be the deadliest. Out of all civilian deaths, about 81% of them are caused by fixed or portable space heaters.

Likewise, about 80% of civilians who are injured during a fire are injured during a space heater fire specifically. These statistics show us just how dangerous space heater fires are.

(National Fire Protection Association)

house fire
Image Credit: Piqsels

6. About 300 people die from fires caused by space heaters every year.

Just as looking at the exact number of space heater fires is helpful, so too is looking at the exact number of people who die from space heater fires. Every year, an average of 300 people die from fires caused by space heaters.

(Missouri Department of Public Safety)


7. Space heaters and other similar heating appliances have caused over $1 billion in property damage.

Death and injury are not the only consequences of space heater fires. Space heater fires also cause a lot of property damage. It is estimated that fires caused by space heaters, both fixed and portable, have caused property damage worth about $1.1 billion.

If you look at all the property damage caused by heating equipment fire, 54% of property damage is done by fixed or portable space heaters.

(National Fire Protection Association)

portable heater
Image Credit: yueban, Pixabay

8. Nationwide alone paid out $48 million in space heater claims.

For reference, Nationwide alone has paid out $48 million in space heater claims. This $48 million is only a small fraction of the $559 million of direct property damage done to Nationwide customers’ homes.

(Nationwide)


9. December through February is when most space-heater-related fires occur.

Space heater fires can happen all year, but the vast majority happen in the deep of winter. As much as 50% of space heater fires occur between the months of December, January, and February. This fact makes sense because these months are when most people use space heaters.

(Nationwide)

aftermath of a house caught on fire
Image Credit: paulbr75, Pixabay

house dividerSpace Heater Fire Safety Facts

10. There are simple ways that you can protect yourself from space heater fires.

As we have learned, space heater fires are all too common, and they cause a lot of damage, injury, and deaths. Furthermore, a large portion of these fires are caused whenever a space heater is placed too close to fabric.

Although these statistics are sad, they do show that simple safety precautions can help protect you and your home from a space heater fire.

Most importantly, abide by the rule of three. Always keep the heater 3 feet away from things that it can burn, including people, pets, and fabric. Doing so will help to prevent space heater fires that are caused by the item being placed too close to fabrics.

Another easy tip to follow is to never leave the space heater on whenever you are not in the room or are asleep. Although it may be tempting to leave the heater on when you sleep or whenever you leave the house, doing so is an accident waiting to happen.

(Fire Rescue 1)


11. Space heaters are getting safer and safer.

Space heaters are a risk to any home, but space heaters are becoming safer every year. As the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, safety standards are increasing by the year. As such, newer models are safer to use than old models.

You can use this information to your advantage. Get rid of old, potentially dangerous space heaters in favor of safer models with more advanced safety features.

(United States Consumer Product Safety Commission)

Garage heater with two cars_Gorloff KV_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Gorloff KV, Shutterstock

12. Fuel-burning space heaters are the most dangerous.

Although all space heaters pose risks, fuel-burning space heaters are the most dangerous. In contrast to electronic models, fuel-burning space heaters often do not include automatic turn-off features, and they can lead to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

For this reason, it’s best to go with new, electric space heaters. You still need to be careful when using electric models, but they aren’t quite as dangerous as gas models.

(United States Consumer Product Safety Commission)


13. It only takes 3 minutes for a fire to escalate out of hand.

To show just how dangerous space heater fires can be, think about this fact. In 33% of American household fires, the homeowners and individuals only have 3 minutes to act before the fire becomes life threatening.

This sobering fact shows just how serious you need to take fires and space heater fires specifically. Because fires can turn deadly fast, make sure to take precautions to keep your home safe from a fire.

(Nationwide)

Smoking roof with fire fighters
Image Credit: MilanLA, Pixabay

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Frequently Asked Questions About Space Heater Fires

What percentage of fires are caused by space heaters?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, as much as 80% of residential fires are caused by space heaters.

(National Fire Protection Association)

Why do space heaters cause so many fires?

Space heaters are responsible for a high number of fires for two reasons. Firstly, these models can malfunction easily. Secondly, many people do not pay close attention to these models. When you put these two factors together, many space heaters malfunction, but people aren’t present to fix the issue before it escalates.

(NY Times)

Can you get burned from space heaters?

Space heaters can do more damage than just cause fire. Even when they are working properly, they can cause severe damage in burns. That is why it’s essential to keep space heaters away from pets and children.

(Larson Law Firm)

What safety features should space heaters have?

Always look for space heaters that come with safety features. The two most important safety features to look for include overheat protection and automatic turn-off.

(CNet)

How far away should I place my space heater from burnable objects?

Always place space heaters at least 3 feet away from other items that can get burned, including fabric, people, and pets.

(NY Times)

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Conclusion

As you can see from these scary facts and statistics, space heaters are dangerous. As such, you should always use space heaters responsibly. Place them three feet away from anything that can burn, and only run space heaters when you are present and awake.


Featured Image Credit: RoberioJr, Shutterstock

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