Fire enginesNew figures released today show that fires caused by electrical heaters have resulted in a total of seven deaths and 162 injuries in the last five years.

With temperatures set to plummeting to below 0°C overnight, firefighters are urging people to take extra care if using  electrical heaters. Fires typically start when blankets and clothes are left too close to or on top of heaters or heaters are placed too close to armchairs, sofas or beds.

In 2016, there were 142 fires causes by electrical heaters, 31 injuries and one death.

Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety at London Fire Brigade, said: “It’s tempting to pull heaters close to you when the temperature drops but blankets and duvets or other material getting too close to heaters is a dangerous fire risk.” 

“Shockingly over two thirds of fatal fires involving heaters are caused by clothing or furniture being too close. People need to make sure their portable heaters are standing upright and kept well away from clothes, curtains or furniture.

“Although the stats focus on electric we should not forget that other heaters such as gas and open fires carry an equal fire risk gas fires if not used correctly.”

Our data shows that over the past five years 815 fires were caused by electrical heaters. The milder winters in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a drop in the number of fires caused by electrical heaters, 139 and 148 respectively, compared to 194 in 2013 and 192 in 2012. 

Our biggest concern is the risks associated with portable electric heaters. Despite heaters only starting about five per cent of the capital’s electrical fires, a third of electrical fires that resulted in a fatality involved heaters.

The highest number of electrical heater fires were recorded in the winter of 2010-11, which saw the UK’s coldest December since 1910. Average temperatures reached -1°C.

Most of these fires are easily preventable. We’re asking people not to become another statistic by following this advice:

• Never sit too close to the heater as you could set light to your clothes or chair, especially if you fall asleep.

• Heaters should stand where they can't be knocked over, away from beds, furniture and fabrics.

• Do not put anything on the heater or use it to dry clothes