London Fire Brigade

Spate of heater fires sparks safety warning from firefighters

29 November 2017

Three serious fires caused by heaters in recent weeks have caused the Brigade to issue an electric heater warning.

As temperatures drop and forecasters say it will be feeling very cold, firefighters are warning people that snuggling up close to the fire can be dangerous. Our new figures show that seven people have died in electrical heater fires in the last five years and 164 people have suffered injuries.

Bedding, blankets or clothes

Fires typically start when bedding, blankets or clothes are placed too close to heaters.

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety at the Brigade, said: "When it gets cold, instinctively, we might want to pull heaters up close but blankets and duvets or other material getting too close to heaters is a dangerous fire risk. 

"Shockingly almost 60% of fatal fires involving heaters are caused by clothing or furniture being too close.

"People need to make sure their portable heaters are standing upright and kept well away from objects and materials that might cause a fire.  Never use one to dry your clothes. Those with mobility issues are especially at risk of tripping or falling onto a heater so placing them at a safe distance is all the more important.

Advice on portable heaters

Get hints and tips on how to use heaters safely

"Although the stats focus on electric heaters we should not forget that other heaters such as gas and open fires carry an equal fire risk if not used correctly. Homeowners should always make sure their heaters are checked regularly and are well maintained. "

Our data shows over the past five years, 819 fires were caused by electrical heaters. The biggest concern is the risks associated with portable electric heaters. Despite heaters only starting about three per cent of the capital's electrical fires, a third of electrical fires that resulted in a fatality involved heaters.

2012/2013 highest number of electrical heater fires

The highest number of electrical heater fires recorded over the winter months in the past five years was in 2012/2013 - one of the coldest winters on record. The mean temperature in the UK for winter 2012/2013 was 3.3 °C which is 0.4 °C below the long term average (source: Met Office)

Most of these fires are easily preventable. Don't become another statistic, get some advice on portable heater and open fires.