Kerosene Heater Safety


Kerosene heaters are portable heaters that can be used to heat homes or small spaces, commonly used during power outages.[1] If you use a kerosene heater, you should be aware of the hazards associated with them and take proper safety precautions to avoid any accidents or injuries.

Types of Kerosene Heaters

There are two types of portable kerosene heaters.[2]  It is important to know the differences between the two types of heaters to ensure that you are using them safely.

  1. Convective heaters – Convective heaters are typically circular.[3] These are designed to heat larger areas and should not be used in small spaces.[4]
  2. Radiant heaters – Radiant heaters are usually rectangular.[5] These are designed for smaller areas, and have a wick that must be kept clean.[6]

Dangers of Kerosene Heaters

Common dangers associated with kerosene heaters are fires, burns and asphyxiation.[7]  Kerosene heaters can cause fires if they are placed too close to furniture, or other flammable objects in the home.[8]  Because kerosene heaters burn with an open flame, touching the heater anywhere above the open flame can cause burns.[9] Asphyxiation, the lack of oxygen, is also a danger of kerosene heaters, because they consume oxygen as they burn.[10] Small rooms or areas that are poorly ventilated can then end up with extremely low levels of oxygen.[11] This can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.[12]

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause death if it becomes concentrated in a small space or breathed in over time.[13]  This can be especially dangerous and deadly if kerosene heaters are used at night when people are sleeping.[14]

Safety Steps

To avoid the common hazards associated with kerosene heaters, follow these safety steps:[15]

  • Always use 1-K grade kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never use gasoline or any other campfire fuel.
  • Check the wick in radiant heaters at least every week during the heating season to make sure it is clean.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean the wick.
  • Make sure the heated area is well ventilated to the rest of the house and outside.  Opening a window at least one inch is a good idea.
  • Keep kerosene heaters at least three feet away from all furniture and other flammable materials.
  • Never use kerosene heaters near combustible substances such as aerosol sprays and gasoline.
  • Always turn kerosene heaters off at night.
  • Keep children and pets away from kerosene heaters.


It is important to know the dangers of kerosene heaters, to be aware of the type of heater that you are dealing with, and to be careful whenever you use any type of heating device.

Additional information and safety tips about kerosene heaters can be found at If you or a loved one suffered an injury caused by a kerosene heater, contact the personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen for a free consultation.   We can help you through the legal process of pursing a claim against those responsible for any injury.

About The Author: Jason Konvicka is a partner and trial attorney with Allen & Allen in Richmond, Virginia. During his 20+ year career, he has achieved numerous record-setting jury verdicts and substantial settlements on behalf of his clients. His practice focuses on medical malpractice, bus accidents and product liability personal injury cases. Outside of the courtroom, Jason is involved with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves on its Board of Governors as Vice President.



[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.


[8] See id.



[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.