Are Kerosene Heaters Safe To Breathe?

Kerosene heaters are great options for homeowners who need to get some warm air in a room or a garage. These appliances are mostly chosen because they can run even when the power gets cut in the middle of winter.

Thus, they can save cash on heating bills. Not to mention that they are also able to heat bigger rooms compared to other types of heaters.

Are these heaters safe, though? Despite the benefits, many people have concerns about these heaters because of the fuel they use – thus, they are hesitant to purchase them. Are these units safe to breathe?

Kerosene heaters are not safe to breathe because they produce indoor air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide,  nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. Breathing these  contaminants is not only risky to the normal person but life threatening to young children, seniors, pregnant women, asthmatics, and individuals with cardiovascular diseases.


Why Would You Buy a Kerosene Heater?

The first thing you may be wondering is why people would settle for a kerosene heater when there are so many other types of heaters that can do a great job. Well, here are a few reasons for that:


  • They are pretty portable in general and can be transported from a place to another without difficulty. This means you could not only use this in the house but also in your garage and just wherever you need it.
  • They have the ability to heat larger spaces compared to other heaters. These models have a fan incorporated, which allows them to heat areas of around 4,000 square feet or even more. Therefore, they are great for warehouses or events.
  • Kerosene heaters use fuel in order to generate heat, so they don’t need electricity to run. This means that if there is a power outage, this heater will still operate.


Is It Possible to Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

If there’s one important thing that you should know, it’s the fact that kerosene heaters are producing carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It is usually made when the fuels don’t manage to burn fully. Burning kerosene could produce this type of gas.

Now, kerosene heaters are not the only ones producing carbon monoxide. Other appliances such as candles, oil lamps, or gas stoves also release carbon monoxide. At the same time, none of them produces it in the same amount as kerosene heaters do.

Therefore, kerosene heaters could cause monoxide poisoning if you’re not taking safety measures. Basically, carbon monoxide is going to attach to the hemoglobin in your bloodstream if you inhale it, which won’t allow the cells to get oxygen anymore. Oxygen is needed to stay alive, so this could lead to a very bad situation.

When carbon monoxide poisoning occurs mildly, it will be very similar to the flu. That being said, you will experience symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches, and you may also start to feel quite exhausted.

When you get more serious carbon monoxide poisoning, the symptoms are going to be worse. You will be mentally confused, have a very severe headache, and feel dizzy. Your heart rate may also be elevated.

Getting the worst carbon monoxide poisoning will cause you to lose consciousness, and maybe even experience convulsions. Heart and lung failure are very likely to happen too. If you keep being exposed to carbon monoxide for long periods, death can also occur.

When carbon monoxide poisoning becomes an issue, it’s important to go outside and get fresh air as soon as possible, or you may end up getting brain damage.


Can You Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Kerosene Heaters

If you use kerosene heaters properly, then carbon monoxide poisoning will not become an issue you have to deal with. Respecting the safety measures will not put your life in danger.

As such, when you’re using your kerosene heater in your home, there needs to be enough fresh air entering the room – so, pay close attention to this. Without maintaining a proper level of ventilation, the risk increases considerably, including kerosene heater smell.

You should make sure ventilation is always available, so the air circulates and doesn’t allow carbon monoxide to replace it. When you’re in a room with a kerosene heater, all the doors should be open if the unit is running. Don’t close the doors, or else you are putting yourself in great danger.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector should also be a consideration on your part. By installing one, you are making sure that as soon as there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, you do what needs to be done to not let it spread even more.

Usually, the detectors will have a test button that you can press now and then, to ensure the battery is still working.

Too much smoke is another thing you’ll have to deal with if you don’t maintain your heater regularly. If you’ve taken all safety precautions but still have your kerosene heater producing smoke, here is how to stop kerosene heater from smoking.


Safety Precautions when Using Kerosene Heaters

If you want to do everything in your power to prevent the kerosene heater from potentially getting dangerous, then here are some safety measures to take into consideration.

  • Always keep an open window if you have a kerosene heater in a room. Opening the window will allow fresh air to enter the space and will not cause carbon monoxide to “take over” the room.
  • Turn off the kerosene heater when you go to bed and always make sure you don’t let it run all night. You cannot monitor it during the night, and you don’t know what could happen as a result. Run it during the day and turn it off when you’re in bed.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the model, there will be certain instructions that the brand will offer for your safety. Always apply them and keep yourself and your family safe from a terrible situation.


Bottom Line

Kerosene heaters can be dangerous if you don’t use them accordingly. This is why it’s so important to always look up safety measures before you purchase such a unit.

Owning a kerosene heater means you have to be very responsible. Always provide ventilation in the room where the heater operates, and don’t let it run while you sleep.

If you don’t trust it, you should get a carbon monoxide detector. It will offer some peace of mind.

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Jesse Pinkman is a passionate HVAC professional writer who grew up repairing any home appliance on which he could lay his hands. He is responsible for ensuring that every article we publish is SPOT ON. When he's not in the office, he enjoys hiking, watching football, and spending time with his family.