Ohio Product Liability Attorney
Space heaters are a common household appliance, and not everybody realizes how dangerous they can be. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths. Space heaters cause approximately 25,000 home fires a year in the US, including 6,000 burn injuries and emergency room visits, according to the Harvard University Environmental Health & Safety group.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more 300 deaths a year result from space heating accidents. The high frequency of space heater fires resulting burn injuries, deaths and property damage make it necessary for manufacturers to bear more responsibility.
Some cities have even banned the use of many types of portable space heaters. Before purchasing or using any type of space heater, it is advised to check with the local fire department to find out if it is legal in the community.
Joe Lyon is a highly rated and experienced Ohio catastrophic injury and product liability injury attorney who is well versed in the science, economic impact, and human loss that such an injury or death has on the victim’s life and their family.
In 2015, a California federal jury awarded over $59 million to the family of a woman who died in a fire sparked by a Sunbeam Products Inc. space heater. The jury found the company negligent in designing the product, and in failing to adequately warn consumers.
The jury determined that Sunbeam was aware of the fire risks posed by its product when it was manufactured, and concluded that the Holmes brand heater presented a substantial danger that ordinary consumers wouldn’t recognize. There are hundreds of other pending lawsuits against manufacturers, and each year space heater models are recalled because of the risks they pose.
Portable electric heaters are typically high-wattage appliances that have potential to ignite nearby combustible materials including curtains, mattresses, beds, upholstered furniture, paper, clothing, and flammable liquids. Space heaters come in two types: those powered by electricity and those powered by fuel. Both have been known to cause fires.
Space heaters are often used as a primary home heating appliance, mostly in low income communities. Alternative home heating choices is common in low-income communities when landlords fail to provide working heat. As a result, space heater related fires occur disproportionally high in low-income communities, and therefore the disadvantaged experience a higher percentage of deaths and burn injuries.
The following models have been recalled in recent years for being a fire hazard to consumers:
• Vornado Air Electric Space Heaters
• Sunbeam Holmes Ceramic Heaters
• Twin-Star Duraflame Electric Space Heater
• Kenmore Oscillating Fan Heaters
• Lifesmart Lifepro portable heater (due to electrical shock hazard)
• Soleil Portable Fan Heaters
• Optimus Portable Infrared Radiant Quartz Electric Space Heaters
• Touch Point Portable Baseboard Convection Heaters
• Optimus Tower Quartz Portable Heaters
• Aloha Breeze Portable Electric Heaters
• Climate Keeper Portable Space Heater and Oscillating Space Heaters
• Creative Heating Solutions Portable Space Heaters
• Touch Point Forced Air Heaters
• Honeywell Surround Select Portable Electric Heaters
• Touch Point Oscillating Ceramic Heaters
• True Living Electric Space Heater Fans
• True Living Portable Quartz Radiant Heaters
• Lasko Portable Electric Heaters
• Flow Pro Electric Heaters
• Airtech Electric Heaters
• Comfort Essentials Heaters
• Honeywell Moveable Baseboard Heaters
• Ritchie Immerson Heaters (due to electrical shock hazard)
• Legacy Propane Infrared Plaque Heaters
• Soleus Air Space Heaters
• Dyson Bladeless Electric Heater
• Holmes; Oil-Filled Electric Heaters
• Mr. Heater Big Buddy and Tough Buddy Portable Propane Heaters
• Maxiheat Dream Tower Heaters
• Holmes and Bionaire Tower Heater Fans
• Model 511 Oil-Filled Electric Radiator Heaters
• Aloha Radiant Heater
• Sun-Sational Electric Heater
• Weather Works Ventilaire Electric Heaters
• Lakewood Electric Heater
• Vermont Castings Space Heaters
• Holmes Wide-Angle Portable Heaters
• Maxi-heat Electric Oil-Filled Radiator Heaters
Safety should be a top consideration while using space heaters. When buying and installing a small space heater, here are some guidelines to follow:
• Only purchase model heaters that have all of the current safety features.
• Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label. Space heaters bearing the UL mark must pass certain safety tests.
• Do not purchase oversized heaters.
• If a heater is left on and unattended, a fire could result. It is best to turn off space heaters when leaving the room where they are used.
• Metal space heaters are generally safer than ones made of plastic.
• Locate the heater on a level surface, and away from foot traffic.
• Keep children and pets away from the heater.
• For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Follow the manufacturer’s fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater
• Plug heaters directly into the wall outlet. Follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
• Buy units with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if tipped over.
While space heater manufacturers warn that space heaters must be constantly attended, and must always at least three feet away from combustibles, the warnings are not practical.
Therefore, UL safety tests require space heaters to shut off if they are tipped over. These safety tests also require that space heaters not ignite combustibles which are in actual contact with the space heaters. Year after year, these precautions are still not enough to guarantee safety. To minimize future accidents, the manufacturers of space heaters must be held responsible for all resulting fire deaths, burn injuries and property damages.
If you have questions about the root cause of a space heater accident or a product liability issue, please call the The Lyon Form at (800) 513-2403 for a no-obligation confidential consult.