National

As heater-related deaths top 100 over five years, officials urge caution when using appliances

JIJI

The nationwide death toll from fires and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by heating appliances over five years through March 2018 has hit 107, a survey by an independent administrative agency has found.

The number of heater-related accidents over the same period also totaled 1,064, according to the survey conducted by the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation.

In one recent case, seven people died in a house fire in Fukushima Prefecture on Nov. 21 that police believe was sparked by a heating appliance.

Since such accidents usually peak during the year-end and New Year period, the institute is urging people to avoid hanging laundry near the appliances, an act that has been blamed for a number of blazes.

According to the institute, the number of heater-related accidents stood at 265 in fiscal 2013, which ended March 2014, and declined for three following years before bouncing back to 196 in fiscal 2017.

The death toll stood at 17 in fiscal 2013, 20 in fiscal 2014 and 23 in fiscal 2015. The number fell to 18 in fiscal 2016, but rose to 29 in fiscal 2017.

Almost all victims were aged 60 or older.

Over the five years surveyed, a total of 374 people died or were injured in heater-related accidents.

Of the total, oil stoves were involved in 137 incidents, electric stoves, 65, and oil fan heaters, 54.

There were many cases in which fires started after the filler caps on of oil stoves were left open, as well cases in which clothes and other materials caught fire because they were too close to electric stoves.

An institute official also noted the danger of sleeping while leaving the appliances on. He urged particular attention in refueling oil stoves. The official also called on people check whether products have been subject to recalls for free repairs.