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People have been killed or injured in their homes using gas and paraffin portable heaters. These accidents can be avoided.
Accidents most frequently occur as a result of gas leaking when people are assembling appliances or changing cylinders or cartridges. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is butane or propane stored as a liquid under pressure. A small leak can produce a large volume of highly flammable gas. The gas is heavier than air so that it collects near the floor or ground and can be ignited at a considerable distance from the source of the leak. If escaping gas is ignited in a room or other space there may be a fire and an explosion.
Every year over 100 people die and nearly 1,000 are injured in their homes as a result of fires caused by heating appliances. Many of these fires involve portable heaters. This section gives advice concerning portable equipment; many of the principles also apply to permanent installations.
Any type of portable heater can start a fire if it is misused. Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer's instructions before using one.
- Turn off portable heaters before going to bed.
- Always follow the manufacturer's operating and maintenance instructions.
- Keep the heater clean and well maintained.
- Ventilate the room in which the heater is being used.
- Make sure that a permanent safety guard is fitted.
- If a heater is to be used in one place for a long time fix it securely to a floor or wall.
- Move a heater while it is alight or switched on;
- Stand or sit too close, your clothing may ignite;
- Place a heater too close to furniture, bedding or curtains;
- Air or dry clothes over a heater;
- Place heaters where they are likely to be knocked over;
- Leave a portable heater on if young children or animals are left unattended;
- Use flammable adhesives, cleaning fluids or aerosol sprays near a heater.
- There are now many forms of powerful domestic heaters available which are fuelled by cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
- Buy a heater that carries the British Standard Institution (BSI) kitemark.
- Ensure that the appliance is serviced regularly.
- Change the cylinder in open air. If this is not possible, open windows and doors to increase ventilation.
- Never change a cylinder on a stairway or other escape route.
- Extinguish all sources of ignition, including cigarettes and pilot lights, and turn off other heaters and electrical appliances before changing the cylinder if it has to be done indoors.
- Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting the heater. Do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until the heater is securely connected.
- Search for any suspected gas leak by brushing soapy water onto the flexible hose and fittings. If a leak is found, take the heater and cylinder into open air and do not use them until the faulty part has been replaced.
- Store spare cylinders outside where possible. Never store them in basements, near drains, under the stairs or in a cupboard containing electric meters or equipment. Spare cylinders must be stored upright.
- Buy a heater that carries the BSI kitemark. Never buy a second hand paraffin heater as they can be dangerous.
- Use only premium grade paraffin and Never use other fuels.
- Extinguish the heater and allow it to cool before refilling it. Wherever possible, refill the tank outside the building.
- Fill the fuel container to just below the maximum level, to allow for expansion when the paraffin warms up.
- Never allow paraffin to overflow or drip onto the floor. Clean up any spillage immediately.
- Ensure the heater is standing level, preferably on a non combustible base, and is away from draughts before lighting it.
- Keep spare fuel outside the home. No more than 23 litres (5 gallon), and preferably only 9 litres (2 gallon) should be kept. Spare fuel should be in purpose made containers and stored away from sources of heat.
In the event of a fire
- Close the door to the room where the fire is burning.
- Get your family and yourself to safety outside the building.
- Call the Fire Service by dialing 999.
LPG and paraffin portable heaters are an expensive way to heat rooms.
They also a major cause of condensation so be sure the window is open a little. Remember that every gallon of paraffin burnt produces 10 pints of water.