Kitchener-Waterloo

Planning on using a patio heater? There are some things to keep in mind, says TSSA

The province's Technical Standards Safety Authority (TSSA) has some safety tips for restaurant and homeowners when setting up patio or portable heaters over the colder months.

Patio heaters should only be used outdoors to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning

Patio heaters are in demand as restaurants, cafés, breweries and pubs look to extend their patio season through the fall and winter months. (Helen Pike/CBC)

As the demand for patio heaters rises and more restaurants try to keep their patios open this fall, city officials and the province's safety authority say there are a few things to keep in mind.

The Technical Standards Safety Authority (TSSA) recently posted safety guidelines on their website offering patio heater safety tips

"We're seeing people in their backyards and restaurants that haven't maybe used them before and it's making sure that they're doing it properly," said Alexandra Campbell, spokesperson for the TSSA.

The City of Waterloo recently extended their temporary patio season to January 2022. The city posted on their website requirements for businesses if they are considering patio heaters in the coming weeks, which includes contacting the TSSA.

"It is the sole responsibility of each user or business to ensure they are in compliance with any standards or procedures stipulated by the TSSA," the city said on its website.

Cory Bluhm, executive director of economic development for the City of Kitchener, told CBC News the city will also be posting guidelines for restaurants soon.

Bluhm said those guidelines will include how they can set up patio heaters in compliance with building and fire codes, or if they are considering setting up tents on the property.

"That way the restaurant operators have all the knowledge they need so that they're operating safely and keeping their costumers safe," he said.

Safety tips for patio heaters

Campbell said there are several things businesses and homeowners need to keep in mind if they plan to use patio heaters. 

She said for starters, patio heaters should only be used outdoors to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

It's also important that people take the time to read the instructions thoroughly beforehand and to double check that the patio heater has been certified, Campbell said.

"This is one where you don't want to throw the instructions out," she said.

Campbell adds storing the heater's propane cylinders properly is also an important step. On its website, the TSSA recommends storing the cylinders outdoors in a secure area away from other potential fire hazards.

"One of the most common things we see are the tanks not being stored properly," she said. 

"Sometimes the restaurant owners want to bring the heaters inside for security reasons, but it's really important to disconnect the tank and make sure the tanks are stored outside."

On its guidelines, the TSSA says people should also check for leaks when installing propane cylinders by applying a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap to the cylinder connections and hose.

"This is a really good idea for restaurants who are using them everyday," Campbell said. "If it bubbles it means there's a leak. You can then tighten up any of the connections or fittings, or replace them if there's still a leak there."

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