With more businesses using portable heaters for outdoor spaces, NFPA offers these safety tips

by Brianna Crandall — January 6, 2021 — Many offices, restaurants, schools, and other businesses have been using outdoor spaces to provide more open workspaces and break spaces and to stay open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with portable outdoor heaters increasingly being used to reduce the chill as temperatures drop.

To help ensure that outdoor propane and electric heaters are used safely and in accordance with NFPA 1, Fire Code (2018 edition), the global nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed “Outdoor Heater Safety,” a new fact sheet that provides guidance and recommendations around safe use of these appliances.

Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA, explained:

Use of outdoor spaces has served as an effective way for businesses and other groups, and restaurants in particular, to continue operating. As the colder months approach, outdoor heaters are being relied upon to extend outdoor services and activities as long as possible. Our goal is to help local code officials work with businesses and groups in their communities to ensure that all activities involving portable outdoor heaters reflect proper safety precautions and considerations.

The new “Outdoor Heater Safety” fact sheet addresses guidelines and recommendations for proper use of propane patio heaters, including safe storage of propane cylinders, as well as electric patio heaters. General safety tips, such as keeping anything at least three feet away from heating equipment and turning off all portable heaters when the area is not carefully monitored or occupied, are highlighted as well.

Carli continued:

By following the recommendations outlined in this fact sheet, communities can enhance safety while continuing to enjoy outdoor dining and other activities involving outdoor heaters later into the colder months.

The new “Outdoor Heater Safety” fact sheet is available to read or download from the NFPA website.

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting people with the resources they need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries and death from fire, electrical and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, visit the group’s webpage.