Brrrr! It's spring: time to heat up the outdoors . . . safely

Blog Post created by lking Employee on May 5, 2020

It’s not unusual for the mother of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be in the news. Margaret Sinclair Trudeau is a celebrity in her own right – author, speaker, and mental-health advocate.


But Ms. Trudeau, 71, made headlines in late April for another reason: she was hospitalized, briefly, for smoke inhalation, after a fire that started on the terrace of her Montreal apartment.



Spring in eastern Canada is fleeting and, like so many who are house-bound with little or no greenspace, Trudeau used a propane patio heater to ward off the evening chill.


Montreal fire department section chief Matthew Griffin told CTV News the fire was accidental, caused by combustible material coming into contact with the propane patio heater.


About 70 firefighters responded; the fire was contained to one apartment but three other families evacuated the building.



With long weekends approaching – Victoria Day in Canada and Memorial Day in the U.S. – outdoor heaters are likely to be a center point of small gatherings with immediate family.


Similar to barbecues and other outdoor appliances, users of patio heaters should follow manufacturer’s instructions, and these safety tips:


  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet (one metre) away from heating equipment.
  • Keep a three-foot (one-metre) kid free zone around propane patio heaters.
  • Turn off the heater when you leave the area or go to bed.
  • Avoid using these types of appliances if you are tired or have taken alcohol or drugs that make you sleepy.
  • Make sure the heater has an anti-tilt or anti-tip switch so the pilot light turns off if the appliance is tipped.
  • Provide adequate clearances around air openings to the combustion chamber to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide.


NFPA offers safety tip sheets on myriad topics that can guide folks who are working and learning from home. Visit Follow us on Twitter at @nfpa, @Sparky_Fire_Dog and, in Canada, @LauraKingNFPA.