London Fire Brigade

Portable heaters and open fires

Heaters being placed too close to flammable materials cause several fires and deaths a year

It is important to stay safe while heating your home; depending on the type of heater in use, you should also be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Portable heaters and fires

  • Secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters
  • Keep heaters away from clothes, curtain and furniture
  • Sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair, especially if you fall asleep
  • Always turn off your heater and allow it to cool before moving it
  • Change gas heater cylinders in the open air, or open windows and doors if you have to change them indoors
  • Store spare cylinders upright and outside, whenever possible. Never store them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment
  • If you are using gas, paraffin or bio-fuel heaters make sure the area is well ventilated
  • When using bio-fuel always follow the manufacturer's guidelines and instructions.
  • Fireboxes and containers should always be placed on a stable surface
  • Never add fuel to a burning fire or attempt to refill a firebox fuel container that is still hot

Open fires and log burners

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
  • Always have your chimney swept by a specialist - at least once a year for coal and twice a year if you are burning logs
  • Make sure you use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers
  • Before you go to bed, ensure fires are under control and guarded or better still, put out
  • Store logs away from burners because radiated heat can cause them to burn