Warm Up Outdoor Spaces Safely with Proper Patio Heater Maintenance


Category: Public Safety

Oct 07, 2023


(October 7, 2022) – As Ontario homeowners and restaurant operators prepare to extend patio season this autumn, Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and safety-minded partners mark Fire Prevention Week (October 9 to15, 2022) by delivering patio heater maintenance guidelines to help keep outdoor gatherers safe from fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Knowing how to properly use patio heaters and open-flame appliances – including fire pits, fireplaces and tabletop units – helps everyone safely enjoy outdoor dining and socializing. With the hope that multiple voices will bring greater impact to this message, TSSA, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association (OMFPOA), Canadian Propane Association (CPA), and Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) offer the following patio heater and open-flame appliance safety tips.

 Tips for the Safe Use of Patio Heaters

  • Ensure equipment is safety certified – Make sure outdoor heating devices are certified by the CSA, ULC, or another recognized certification body. A list of approved certification marks can be found on the TSSA website.
  • Avoid the dangers of fire and CO poisoning – Never use outdoor heating devices indoors or in an enclosed area. If patio heaters are used in a shelter, be conscious of fire hazards and risks of CO build up.
  • Recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning – Teach staff and family members to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning (nausea, dizziness, headache).
  • Avoid fire hazards – Be sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for required clearances from combustible materials such as umbrellas, awnings, walls, tablecloths, paper products, decorations, etc. Don’t forget to locate and identify easily accessible fire extinguishers in the patio area.
  • Position with care – Always place patio heaters on a stable surface. Make sure patio heaters do not obstruct doors, fire exits or firefighting equipment and are properly distanced from building air intakes.
  • Operate safely – Ensure anyone operating a patio heater understands how to disconnect and install propane cylinders, including how to check for leaks. See the Patio Heater Safety Guidelines for instructions.
  • Keep an eye out – Never leave patio heaters unattended and pay particular attention when children or intoxicated adults are in the vicinity.
  • Store propane cylinders safely – Never store propane cylinders indoors, in a garage, close to operational heaters, or near smoking areas. Propane cylinders must be stored upright, outdoors, in an area protected against tampering, unauthorized movement, dropping, or impacts that could result in a leak or a fire.

Additional resources on the safe use of outdoor heating devices and propane cylinders, including Patio Heater Safety Guidelines and a Patio Heater Safety Checklist for Restaurant Owners and Operators, are available for download at  www.tssa.org.


“Owners and operators of outdoor patios and dining areas are responsible for the safe installation, operation, and maintenance of their patio heating units. They must abide by all safety and maintenance instructions outlined in operating manuals and ensure they understand how to safely operate heating units and properly handle propane cylinders. Outdoor heating equipment should not simply be pulled out of storage and turned on each year without being properly inspected and maintained, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.”

-Sam Sadeghi

Director, Fuels Safety, TSSA

“Any type of heating equipment needs regular inspections and maintenance to ensure its proper operation, especially outdoor heating equipment that doesn’t get used for long periods of time during the summer. Always carefully inspect and maintain your equipment per the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe operation and get the most enjoyment of your patio and outdoor experiences.”

-Deputy Chief Rob Grimwood

President, OAFC

“Outdoor heating devices are great tools that provide temporary warmth when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Improperly used devices can lead to the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. When using these devices, ensure that they are kept away from combustible materials and used in well ventilated areas.”

-Vince Giovannini

President, OMFPOA

“Propane patio heaters are perfect for warming up chilly nights. Their versatility and portability mean you can heat up just about any space. Taking the time to understand how to use patio heaters and open flame appliances safely will help everyone enjoy the outdoors long into the evening. Follow the TSSA’s safety tips, and for more information on propane, visit the CPA’s website at www.propane.ca.”

-Shannon Watt

President and CEO, CPA

“It is vital for restaurant owners to educate staff on patio heater and propane cylinder safety practices to prevent exposing patrons to serious health and safety risks. By consulting the patio heater safety resources developed by TSSA and safety partners and heeding local fire department guidelines, restaurant owners and staff can serve up safety, in addition to flavour, with every alfresco meal.”

-Tony Elenis

President & CEO, ORHMA

About TSSA

Throughout Ontario, TSSA administers provincial safety regulations and enhances public safety. TSSA regulates the safety of amusement devices, boilers and pressure vessels, elevating devices, fuels, operating engineers, and ski lifts. Its range of safety services include public education authorization, engineering design review, inspections, investigations, compliance support, enforcement, and prosecution activities. For more information, visit www.tssa.org.

About the OAFC

The OAFC represents more than 700 chief fire officers in Ontario, from across 441 municipalities, who are responsible for the management and delivery of fire, rescue, and emergency response to the province’s 14.5 million residents. Its mission is to lead innovation and excellence in public and life safety by inspiring and influencing a safer Ontario. For more information, visit www.oafc.on.ca.

About the OMFPOA

The OMFPOA is an independent, non-profit organization representing approximately 200 fire departments across Ontario. For more information, visit www.omfpoa.com.

About the CPA

The CPA represents over 400 companies in every region of the country and promotes a culture of safe propane handling and use of propane-fueled equipment. For more information, visit www.propane.ca

About the ORHMA

The ORHMA is the largest provincial hospitality association in Canada. With over 4,000 members, representing more than 11,000 establishments across the province, the ORHMA is dedicated to fostering a positive business climate for Ontario's hospitality industry. For more information, visit www.orhma.com.


For more information, please contact:

Alexandra Campbell

Vice President, Communications and Stakeholder Relations

Technical Standards and Safety Authority

Telephone: 416-734-6227 | Email: media@tssa.org

Mark Tishman

Executive Director

Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

Telephone: 905-426-9865 x1228 | Email: Mark.Tishman@oafc.on.ca 

Vince Giovannini


Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association

Telephone: 905- 227-6412 | Email: Vince.Giovannini@thorold.ca 

Tammy Hirsch

Senior Director, Communications and Marketing

Canadian Propane Association

Telephone: 587-777-3917 | Email: TammyHirsch@propane.ca

Fatima Finnegan

Director of Corporate Marketing & Business Development

Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association

Telephone: 905-361-0268 | Email: ffinnegan@orhma.com