Electric Space Heater Fire Lawyer
Children are far too often injured or killed in accidents involving space heaters. Although space heaters are one of the most dangerous items in your house, many people use small, portable heaters during cold spells, especially in houses that are older and drafty.
Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires, but cause 80 percent of the deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that portable electric heaters are involved in more than one thousand fires per year, resulting in about 50 deaths and dozens of injuries, many of whom are children. People let their guard down as there are no visible flames, especially when the heater is built into the wall. Most space heater fires occur at night, when children are asleep and most vulnerable, which accounts for the high mortality rate in space heater fires.
Because space heaters are typically high-wattage appliances, they can potentially ignite nearby combustible materials, from curtains to beds to flammable liquids. Space heaters are either powered by electricity or by fuel– both are known to cause fires.
If you are going to use a space heater, you should know how to keep safe.
Why Space Heaters are Dangerous
Unfortunately, there are many issues that can arise in the course of using an electric space heater that can result in space heater injuries and even death. For instance, there may be a manufacturing or design defect; carbon monoxide poisoning; using the space heater near fuel-burning appliances or flammable objects. If this is the case, you may have a claim that could result in a space heater lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or other entities.
Space heaters can:
- Overload circuits causing a power failure or fire because they use a lot of electricity
- Become really hot. Children are especially vulnerable to getting burned, and it’s also possible for clothes to catch on fire
- Pose a shock hazard
- Tip over, posing a fire hazard
Inadequate Space Heater Warnings
Space heater manufacturers warn that space heaters must be constantly attended, and must always be at least three feet away from combustibles, but these warnings are easier said than done.
Manufacturers must perform strict safety tests to ensure their product shuts off if tipped over and they don’t ignite combustibles that are in actual contact with the space heaters. But these precautions are still not enough to guarantee safety. To minimize future accidents, space heater manufacturers must be held responsible for all resulting fire deaths, burn injuries and property damages.
If your child has been injured or killed in an accident as a result of someone’s negligence or a defective product, child accident attorney Jeffrey Killino can help you hold those responsible for your child’s accident injury or death accountable.
Space Heater Safety
Safety features on space heaters can create a false sense of security.
“Space heaters can be effective tools for providing added warmth at home, but it’s critical that people follow basic precautions to ensure that they’re used safely,” said Lorraine Carli, with the NFPA. Carli says space heaters should be placed a minimum of three feet away from anything that can burn, and must be turned off when people leave the room or go to sleep. “Make sure children and pets are kept well away from space heaters at all times, and remember that space heaters should never be left unattended,” said Carli. “When you’re ready to go to sleep, it’s time to turn off your space heater.”
Always make safety a top priority when operating small space heaters. Keep your home and kids safe and warm this winter by following these simple tips.
- Buy a space heater that has a guard around the heating element. This will help keep kids safe from burns.
- Maintain a three-foot no-kid zone around space heaters at all times and keep all flammables at least three feet away.
- When purchasing a portable space heater, confirm with the salesperson that the heater has been safety-certified. If it has, it will have a safety certification mark.
- Before using a space heater, read all manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels.
- Always turn space heaters off when not in the room or if you are going to sleep.
- Keep portable heaters out of high traffic areas so that there is no danger of tripping over the unit.
- Do not use extension cords when plugging in space heaters.
- Make sure the surface that the heater is placed on is level and stable.
- When not in use, store heater in a safe place, away from children.
Unsafe Space Heaters – Manufacturer Negligence
Not all space heaters are made equal. Manufacturers have a responsibility to protect consumers, and it’s important to understand your rights. The Killino Law Firm can investigate a potential product liability case and pursue compensation for you and your children harmed by unsafe products.
If a manufacturer makes products that are unsafe when used as instructed, or fails to adequately warn consumers about the possible dangers of using its products, the manufacturer can be held responsible for any personal injury or property damage caused by such products. The victim of an unsafe product may be awarded compensation for medical expenses, property damage and other losses to be paid by the manufacturer, designer, retailer or distributor of the faulty product.
Tragic Consequences – Space Heater Fire or Accident
Space heaters are often used in low-income communities as a primary home heating appliance when landlords fail to provide adequate heating. As a result, the disadvantaged experience a higher percentage of deaths and burn injuries, and far too many accidents have involved children.
A fire killed five young children in 2014 – the father and two other children escaped. The Minneapolis Fire Department found that a space heater had been running for days in the same part of the duplex where the fire started. Troy Lewis, the father, told the Star Tribune that he’d bought the heater for about $50 at Wal-Mart because the house was inadequately heated, and he had also been running the oven for warmth.
A woman bought an electric oil-filled space heater for the children’s room in their home. The woman woke to hear her children coughing – they were trapped inside the bedroom where a fire was blazing. Both children died. The Fire Marshall determined that the ignition source that was found in the area where the fire started was the space heater. The woman filed a lawsuit and retained an expert in fire causation safety.
Space Heater Recalls
Hundreds of lawsuits are pending against manufacturers of space heater models that have been recalled.
Consumer Affairs reported that Vornado Air of Andover, Kan., is recalling about 5,100 Vornado Sunny CS nursery heaters sold in the U.S. and Canada after receiving five reports of the heaters catching on fire. A broken motor mount can allow the electric heating element to come in contact with the interior plastic materials and ignite, posing fire and burn hazards.
The heaters, manufactured in China, were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, buybuy Baby and other stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Target.com, Vornado.com and other websites from October 2017, through December 2017, for about $100.
Vornado in April 2018 recalled 350,000 VH101 Personal Vortex electric space heaters, which can overheat when in use. Vornado has received a total of 19 reports of the heaters catching fire. In December 2017, an elderly man man died as a result of a fire involving the recalled heater.
Vornado in 2014 recalled about 79,000 electric space heaters. The heater can overheat and cause the units to melt, catch fire and ignite nearby items, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. The company had received 29 reports of units overheating and melting, including seven reports of heaters catching fire.
Lifesmart of Plano, Texas, in 2015 recalled about 17,000 Lifepro portable space heaters. The screws used to attach the back plate to the heater are too short and allow the back plate to detach when removing the heater from the outlet, posing an electrical shock hazard to the user. No incidents or injuries have been reported.
In April 2014, Dyson recalled two models of bladeless electrical heaters that sell for about $400 after reports of 82 incidents of them short-circuiting and overheating, or having burned or melted internal parts. It was one of at least a dozen space-heater recalls over the last five years. About 338,000 in the U.S. and about 43,000 in Canada were recalled. Dyson contacted every owner of the models and made repairs to a component in the circuit board.
Sumbeam recalled its Holmes Ceramic Heaters after it received 132 reports of units that unexpectedly stopped working and/or overheating, resulting in one report of smoke inhalation and ten reports of property damage involving burned flooring. The heaters were sold at Fred Meyer, Target, Walmart and other retailers nationwide from August 2013 to March 2014 for about $30.
A California federal jury in 2015 awarded over $59 million to the family of a woman who died in a fire sparked by a Sunbeam Products Inc. space heater. The company was found negligent in designing the product, and in failing to adequately warn consumers.