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Kerosene Heater Safety

Below is a list of necessary precautions to take when operating a kerosene heater. Examine our selection of kerosene heater manuals for information on specific models.

General Guidelines on Kerosene Heater Safety

  • Do not operate your heater near flammable objects or materials such as furniture, drapes, large amounts of dust, or combustible fuels. Place your kerosene heater at least three feet from combustible materials.
  • Avoid skin burns and combustion of clothing from direct contact with heater.
  • Place your heater in an area that has little to no traffic to prevent knock over.
  • Keep all children and pets at a safe distance from operating heaters.
  • Never move a heater while in use. Never use a heater to heat food/water or to dry wet clothing.
  • Never leave a burning heater unattended. Extinguish a heater if you are leaving or going to sleep.

  • Only use quality 1-K kerosene fuel that has been properly stored.
  • NEVER USE GASOLINE or any other combustible or low quality fuels.
  • Do not use heater near fumes or solvents that are flammable, such as aerosol sprays or lacquers.
  • Fuel is highly toxic and fumes are ignitable. Always fill the heater outside of the home.
  • Do not fuel your heater while it is in operation or still hot from operation.
  • Avoid spilling fuel. If kerosene spills, clean it up immediately.
  • Do not overfill the heater above the "full" level

  • Kerosene heaters reduce oxygen levels in small rooms without ventilation. This increases chances of asphyxiation.
  • Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide can be emitted from improper use of kerosene heaters. These fumes become toxic in large quantities and put vulnerable individuals at risk, such as pregnant women, asthmatics, people with cardiovascular disease, the elderly, and young children.
  • Signs of toxic fume poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

  • Keep the room well ventilated with doors and windows slightly open, even if cold outside.
  • Keep the kerosene heater clean, and only use quality 1-K kerosene. Click here for how to clean.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and smoke.
  • Keep wicks new and clean to prevent toxic fumes. Click here for new kerosene heater wicks.

  • If a kerosene heater ever catches fire or there is an uncontrollable flame, do not try to move it. Engage the manual shut-off switch. If this does not extinguish the fire, use a fire extinguisher or call the local fire department. Do not try to extinguish with water or blankets.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and make sure all members of your household understand your plan and can carry it out in case of emergency.
  • Always use a kerosene heater to manufacturer instructions.
  • Keep your heater in good, clean condition.
  • Practice common sense and vigilance.

Kerosene Heater Indoor Air Pollutants

Do kerosene heaters emit carbon monoxide? Yes, more so when operated improperly. Always operate your kerosene heater in a well ventilated room. Airflow with a cracked window or door will protect your from the buildup of toxic fumes. Also, an old/dirty wick and low quality fuel are the main causes of toxic fumes. Buy a new wick here.

A kerosene heater draws in air and releases heat from the internal combustion of kerosene. This combustion process is very efficient, with only 7% to 8% of wasted energy tied up as a water-by-product. However, certain toxic fumes are released, including oxides of nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon.

Indoor pollutants studied from unvented kerosene heaters include: sulfur dioxide, nitric oxides, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Sulfur impurities in the fuel are converted into sulfur dioxide. Carbon monoxide is produced through incomplete combustion of the fuels, however, CO and CO2 are in low levels.

The volume of the room, the type of heater, and the characteristics of the building all play a role in the exchange of air and potential buildup of fumes. Always operate your heater in a well ventilated room. Keep your heater and parts clean and up-to-date. Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors for the best protection.