Patio Heater Safety

Patio heater safety information from Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).

Patio heaters and open-flame appliances such as fire pits, fireplaces, and tabletop units help people enjoy outdoor dining and socializing in the colder months. 

If you know how to use these devices properly, you can protect yourself and others from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire. 

Here are some important tips for using patio heaters, open-flame appliances, and propane cylinders on your patio or deck.

Home Patio Heaters

  • Patio heaters are for outdoor use only. Keep them outside. Always make sure the area in which you’re using one is well ventilated. 

  • Make sure heaters are on a stable surface so they do not get knocked over. Do not install heaters on grass or an uneven sidewalk, or near the edge of an elevated platform.

  • Check the manufacturers' instructions for the distance you must keep above, around and underneath heaters. Make sure you also keep patio heaters away from combustible materials such as umbrellas, awnings, walls, tablecloths, paper products, decorations and signs. 

  • Do not obstruct doors or place heaters next to, or in the path of, an exit or fire escape.

  • Do not obstruct firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire hydrants or fire department connections. Make sure heaters are not near building air intakes.

  • If your patio heater uses propane, make sure not to store propane cylinders near operational heaters or smoking areas. (A cylinder is “in storage” when it is not connected to an appliance.) 

  • Never move a patio heater while the flame is lit. Make sure you shut off the fuel supply and let the unit cool before you move it. Always use caution when moving a patio heater or a propane cylinder to avoid dropping or impacting it.

  • Never leave a patio heater unattended.

  • Exercise additional caution when adults using intoxicating substances are around a patio heater. Similarly, be careful when children are in the area.

  • See our Patio Heater Safety Guidelines (pdf) for more helpful tips on safely using patio heaters.

Restaurant Patio Heaters 

To protect your guests while they enjoy the comfort of your outdoor patio, please read our Patio Heater Safety Guidelines (pdf) and our Checklist for Restaurant Owners (pdf). These documents provide information on installing and locating both propane and natural gas patio heaters, making sure your shelter is safe, and more.

Be sure that all staff know how to safely operate patio heaters. In particular, they should understand how to:

  • Identify fire hazards.

  • Safely light, turn off and move heaters.

  • Safely connect, disconnect, move, store and transport propane cylinders.

  • Detect leaks in hoses, valves and fittings.

  • Prepare equipment for inclement weather.

  • Respond to an emergency, including where to find fire extinguishers and how to use them.

  • Identify the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (nausea, dizziness, headache, sore throat, drowsiness).

Transporting Propane 

You may transport up to five 20-pound propane cylinders in your vehicle. You must safely secure these cylinders in:

  • An upright position in the passenger compartment with the windows open,

  • A trunk with the lid propped open, or 

  • A ventilated box in the vehicle.

If you transport more than five 20-pound propane cylinders, you must follow Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations.

Storing Propane 

  • Never store propane cylinders indoors. For safety reasons, remove the propane cylinder from any appliance you need to store indoors.

  • Store propane cylinders upright and protect them against any kind of tampering, unauthorized movement, dropping or impact that could result in a leak or fire.

  • Safeguard stored propane cylinders with tamper-proof, vehicle-proof protection, such as in a locked cage or a fenced-in area. Do not store propane cylinders in a garage, close to operational heaters, or near smoking areas.

  • Keep propane cylinders at least one metre (three feet) from any building opening. You must also keep them three metres (10 feet) from any sidewalk or air intake. Keep them the same distance from any adjoining property occupied by schools, churches, hospitals, athletic fields, or other points of gathering.

  • Do not store more than 25 20-pound cylinders together.