Are Kerosene Camping Heaters Safe?

Are Kerosene Camping Heaters Safe

When going to camp, you carry camping heaters to keep your tent warm.  There are various types of heaters you can have like electric, kerosene, solar, etc. All these camping heaters can be safe when you use them properly. However, improper use of the heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and lead to death.

A kerosene heater is safe to use during camping but only in a large tent. While using the heater in the tent, keep it several feet away as it releases too much heat.  Again, carry a carbon monoxide detector to alert you in case of high emissions.

Kerosene Camping Heater Safety Tips

If you have to use a camping kerosene heater, there are some tips you should follow for your safety;

Keep extra fuel outside the tent.

Kerosene burns out fast, so you will need to carry extra fuel. However, be careful not to store the fuel inside the tent. It can get so hot inside, making the stored kerosene expand and explode.

Have a carbon monoxide detector

Place this device inside the tent and ensure there is ventilation. The tool will alert you in case the heater depletes the oxygen inside.

Always use kerosene 1-k

Some gas stations add dye to their fuel which makes it burn differently and increases the risks. So, always consider purchasing kerosene 1-k that burns appropriately. Avoid using gasoline as it increases the chances of explosion.

Ensure you clean containers for storage

Use the proper containers meant for kerosene, not a can that has gasoline. Kerosene containers are primarily blue and gasoline red to prevent contamination or using the wrong fuel.

Avoid refilling the heater indoors.

Refuel your heater outside the tent and away from combustible materials. Avoid refilling the heater when it’s hot or in operation; it can easily blow up. It’s also best to avoid filling above the maximum level to give more room for expansion and prevent spillage.

Is it Ok to Use Kerosene Heaters Indoors?

You can use a kerosene heater indoors, but you have to be cautious.  Kerosene burns in an open flame, so always keep it away from flammable solvents, sprays, gasoline, or any other type of oil. It’s best to heed all the safety guidelines and kerosene heater ratings.  Observe the following safety techniques while using the heater indoors;

  • Always have your heater checked and serviced frequently; this will help keep the carbon monoxide level low. An old wick with low-quality fuel causes more toxic emissions.
  • Keep your room where you are using the heater well ventilated. If possible, keep the doors and windows open for proper aeration. You can still use a filter to lower the carbon monoxide emissions.
  • Keep the heater away from furniture that can potentially catch fire like sofas, beds, curtains. Again, avoid placing anything over the heater as it can catch fire.
  • Don’t permit your kids to play in the vicinity of a kerosene heater; they can easily knock it down. Always ensure the kids are under supervision if they stay in the room with a heater.
  • Never move your heater while it is still on.
  • Always operate your heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring the wick is set at the proper level.
  • Always remember to turn off the kerosene heaters before going to sleep.

Do You Need Ventilation When Using a Kerosene Heater?

Ventilation is very crucial when using a kerosene heater indoors. As the fuel burns, it reduces oxygen levels and emits harmful gas like carbon monoxide. With less air circulation, the carbon levels rise, increasing the chances of asphyxiation.  As you use the heater indoors, ensure you have a source of fresh air, with windows and doors open. Ventilation will replace the oxygen used up and also remove the gases to prevent respiration problems.

Can fumes from a kerosene heater be harmful?

Kerosene fumes can cause kerosene heater health risks and other hazards. These dangers include; 

  1. Indoor air pollution –  kerosene fumes emit many pollutants such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide. Inhaling these gases can cause a health risk, especially to pregnant, asthmatics, the elderly, and young children.
  2. Carbon monoxide – kerosene fumes emit this gas when it fails to burn thoroughly. As you breathe in carbon monoxide, it attaches to the hemoglobin and blocks your cells from receiving oxygen.  A mild case of carbon monoxide leads to headaches, dizziness, vomiting. In contrast, a severe case causes severe headaches, mental confusion, high heart rate, and death.

Can you Sleep with a Kerosene Heater On?

It’s a high risk for you to sleep with the kerosene heater. As a safety tip of using a kerosene heater, it’s better to put off the heater before going to sleep. Leaving your heater on can lead to pollution issues that will affect your health, as mentioned above, and other hazards as follows;

  1. Burns – they can occur after direct contact with the heater or after the ignition of explosive material. It’s best to keep your children and pets away from the heater to avoid injuries.  An accident can occur at night and lead to burns.
  2. Fire or explosion – if you use a heater in a packed room close to furniture, curtains, it can easily get knocked down and start a fire. However, fire outbreaks can still occur if you operate the heater in a room with explosive fumes or using the wrong fuel. The occurrence of such an event can lead to injuries and even death if one is caught unaware.

Are Kerosene Heaters Safe in a Garage?

You can use your kerosene heater in the garage but under the following restrictions;

  • Ensure there is ventilation by propping the door wide open.
  • Have several fans in the room for additional air circulation and moving the heat around.
  • Have carbon monoxide detectors to alert you in case of any danger
  • Ensure there are no combustible items in the garage.

Are Kerosene Heaters Legal?

Kerosene heaters are illegal to use in most countries due to the hazards they cause.  However, the restrictions vary from city to city. For instance, in the US, heaters are banned in almost all cities. Nevertheless, there are some loopholes in the enforcement since people can still purchase the products. In addition, the government discourages using unvented kerosene heaters due to the emissions they make.

  • For instance, New York prohibits using kerosene heaters in any private dwellings. In addition, the laws state that you cannot own, store or even use a kerosene heater as per the 2006 code.
  • In Massachusetts and California, the use of heaters is illegal.
  • They allow approved kerosene heaters with a low center of gravity and a safety shut-off device in Illinois. However, the same state prohibits heater usage in day-care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.

In the UK, it intends to ban the use of gas and oil fuels by 2025. The move comes as a way of creating more clean energy for health, safety, and the environment.

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In Canada, the government plans to revise the existing laws on kerosene storage, handling, and utilization. In addition, the government aims to improve the safety of using kerosene heaters.  


If you have to use kerosene heaters, ensure you follow safety guidelines.  Nowadays, there are modern heaters with some safety features. Consider purchasing the approved heater models and use the best quality kerosene. Additionally, always keep your heater and wick clean to prevent the emission of toxic gases.