Public Release: 

Loyola warns lower temps mean greater risk of fire from space heaters

Loyola University Health System

MAYWOOD, Ill. - The Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center is warning the public about the dangers of space heaters and other electrical appliances used to keep warm during winter cold snaps.

The tips are available to the public in English and Spanish on Loyola's Web site:

"Every year we receive patients who are victims of house fires caused by space heaters, " said Dr. Richard L. Gamelli, chief, The Burn Center and director of the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill.

"So many of these injuries are preventable if simple precautions are taken," said Gamelli, chair, department of surgery; professor of trauma surgery; and professor of pediatrics; Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.

Loyola's tips cover space heaters, candles, cooking safety, and bathing.

Some key tips for space heater safety include:

  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture or other combustible material, such as curtains and bedding. Don't place heaters on carpets or rugs.

  • Locate space heaters on a hard, level surface where a child or family pet cannot brush up against them.

  • Never leave a space heater on when an adult is not present in the room.

  • Make sure the heater is designed for the size of the room you wish to heat. Indoor pollutants can be produced with a wrong sized heater.

  • Ensure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide and other hazardous fumes.

  • Make sure there is a guard around the heating element or flame area of the device.

  • Do not go to sleep with a space heater turned on. Carbon monoxide levels could rise with fuel-fired heaters.

  • Portable heaters should have an automatic shut-off.

  • Never keep flammable liquids near a space heater.

  • Mobile homes should use only vented fuel-fired or electric heaters.


Loyola University Medical Center's Burn Center is a major treatment and research center for burn care in the Midwest and a leader throughout the world. A multidisciplinary team, which includes resuscitation, pulmonary support, wound management, nutritional support and rehabilitation personnel, provide care in the center.

The Burn Center has approximately 70 highly trained staff, including nurses, patient care technicians, service coordinators and service associates.

The center is one of the busiest in the Midwest treating more than 400 patients in the hospital each year and more than 2000 in its clinic. Approximately 40 percent of these patients are children.

The Burn Center provides comprehensive care for adults and children with thermal injuries, electrical burns, chemical injury, frostbite, toxic epidural necrolysis, inhalation injury and complex soft tissue infections.

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