As winter approaches and temperatures drop, the number of home fires increase, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Each winter, over 100,000 home fires occur in the United States, resulting in approximately 950 deaths and over $1.5 billion in property losses.
Kitchen and cooking fires are the leading cause of winter home fires. However, winter storms and cold spells can cause people to use alternative or supplemental heating sources like space heaters, which also can be especially dangerous. Space heaters account for one third of home heating fires and about 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually in the United States.
Space heaters are small, contained, electrical devices designed to provide supplemental heat to a contained room. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Space heaters can quickly heat an average room very efficiently, taking the chill off a room in a short amount of time.
However, as found by Consumer Reports, many space heaters can present hidden dangers to consumers. Some of these dangers include:
- Skin burns– some space heaters may heat hot enough to cause a bad burn within a second of contact.
- Electrocution–arcing can occur when units are unplugged while still “on”.
- Fire– more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters or room heaters, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Space Heater Or Room Heater Recalls
During the past decade, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued recall notices for 32 different type of electric space heaters. The CPSC issues recalls when it finds reason to believe that a consumer product creates an unreasonable risk of injury or death to consumers who might use the recalled product.
CPSC recently issued a recall notice for approximately 79,000 units of Vornado Air electric space heaters. The space heater recall was issued because Vornado has received 29 reports of units overheating and melting, including seven reports of heaters catching fire, resulting in one report of smoke inhalation and one report of property damage caused by soot and smoke.
Preventing Space Heater Accidents And Injuries
Space heaters can serve a useful function as winter approaches and the temperatures start to drop. Experts recommend the following safety tips for those using space heaters:
- Only purchase a space heater that is labeled as having been laboratory tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or other nationally recognized testing laboratories.
- Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that could catch fire, such as bedding, draperies, furniture, rugs, and clothing.
- Don’t use a room heater near paint, gas cans, or matches, and make sure the unit’s air intake and outlet are clear.
- Keep space heaters away from water or from areas where they may become wet (such as near open windows). Check whether the heater is intended for use in areas such as bathrooms.
- Do not leave space heaters turned on or plugged in when they are not attended.
- Do not use space heaters in rooms where children or pets could be injured by touching the unit, tipping it over, or putting an object into or no the unit, leading to burns, fire, or electrical shock hazards.
- Do not use space heaters with extension cords or plug into outlets that are overcrowded.
Tallahassee Legal Help For Defective Product Injuries
Under Florida law, products are expected to perform as advertised when a consumer uses the product as directed. The law allows manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers to be held responsible if this standard is not met and injury or death results.
The experienced Tallahassee and South Georgia product liability attorneys at Barrett, Fasig & Brooks have successfully represented clients in cases involving defective and dangerous products. If you have been injured by a product that you believe contained a manufacturing, design, or marketing defect, please call our office today at 866-346-4186 or use our online contact form for prompt legal help and to find out more about your rights to legal compensation for your medical bills, loss of earnings, pain, suffering, and other damages.