Patio Heater Safety

March 3, 2021

With the weather starting to slowly warm up just a little bit, more people are moving outside for COVID safe social interactions. And a lot of these outdoor activities can involve a personal heater. If you are using an outdoor heater, be sure to know the risks of using them before you flip the switch! 

What are Patio Heaters? 

A patio heater is exactly what it sounds like—a device to heat your patio.  Like any other form of heater, a patio heater uses fuel to keep a space warm. They are designed for outdoor use, but based on the device they may also be used for covered porches and similar spaces.

Patio heaters can be floor-standing, hanging, wall-mounted, or sit on a tabletop. They can also include fire pits and chimineas. Heaters frequently come in one of four forms: natural gas, electric, propane, and wood-burning.

Before picking a patio heater, follow these important safety tips to make sure you are picking the best one for you & using it in a safe way!

Do: 

  • Do make sure your heater is set firmly in place and weighted down.
  • Do keep the heater away from decorations, awnings, sunshades or similar flammable items.
  • Do place the heater at least 5 feet from any building and all areas of entry and exit.

Don’t: 

  • Don’t use indoors because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t place on the edge of a balcony or on stairs, because of the risk of tip over and ignition of materials.
  • Don’t use in strong winds.
  • Don’t place on uneven ground.

General Tips: 

Before you turn on your heater, locate the emergency cutoff switch to shut off the gas flow quickly in case of emergency.

Check your gas heater for a tipover switch. This switch automatically shuts off the flow of gas if the heater is tilted more than 15 degrees from a vertical position.

Make sure you heater has a guard to prevent accidental contact by people – especially children – or materials.

Be smart about where you store your fuel container. Store them outside of buildings, away from doors, stairways, windows and other means of egress.

NOTE: Many localities do not allow patio heaters. Consult your local fire department or city building authority for additional information, and always be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions and warnings specific to your model of patio heater.