Portable Heaters

Portable Heaters

pdf icon Portable Heaters

Portable heaters are used extensively in the construction industry to permit work to continue during cold weather. They may also be used in many other occupancies as a supplemental heating system or where a permanent heating system does not exist or is out of service.

The main hazards associated with the use of portable heaters are fires, carbon monoxide poisonings, and burns.

Portable heaters are the cause of many serious fires because of improper placement or lack of adequate safeguards. Maintaining adequate clearance from combustible materials is critical. Make sure that winds cannot blow canvas, plastic, or other combustible materials against heaters.

Heaters should only be used in a safe area. Do not use in tightly enclosed rooms where there is limited ventilation, or in garages or workshops where there may be flammable/combustible liquids or combustible dusts.

Before using a portable heater refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for ventilation requirements, clearance from combustible material requirements and other safety precautions.

Safety precautions for portable heaters

Portable heaters should be UL listed (Underwriters Laboratories) or certified by another Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.

All units should have a substantial base to prevent tip-over and should be placed on level ground. Units should not be placed on a combustible floor surface unless designed for that purpose. If so, proper clearance guidelines must be followed.

Tarpaulins used to provide temporary enclosure for heaters should be made of fire-retardant materials. Portable heaters should not be exposed to weather elements unless the manufacturer indicates the unit can be used outdoors. Keep heaters away from pedestrian traffic patterns to avoid tripping hazards, contact burns, or ignition of clothing.

For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline. Never refill a heater while it is hot. Only use approved containers, clearly marked for that particular fuel, and store them outdoors. Kerosene should be stored in a UL-listed safety container.

Purchase heaters that have an automatic shut-off control that stops the flow of fuel or power in the event the heater is tipped over and do not leave the heater unattended while it is in operation. Do not use extension cords or multi-plug power strips. Gas- or oil-fueled heaters should have an oxygen depletion sensor. The sensor detects when oxygen levels have reached an unsafe level and shut off the fuel supply to the heater.


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