A young child sleeping on an air mattress while on a camping trip

Mr. Buddy Heater Deaths Explained

Propane heaters are an efficient way to produce considerable heat. They’re common in the RV and camping communities, where portability is critical. However, propane is a hazardous gas and can be deadly in certain situations.

While propane explosions and accidents are relatively rare, the CDC reports that at least 430 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning annually.

Mr. Buddy Heaters are one of the top propane heaters for those who enjoy camping. So are Mr. Buddy Heater deaths a common incident among RVers and other campers? Let’s take a look!

A young child sleeps on an air mattress on a camping trip.

What Is a Mr. Buddy Heater?

Mr. Heater makes a line of portable heaters. One line is the Buddy series. These highly compact heaters can provide approximately three or four hours of heat on a single one-pound propane canister. When you connect them to a larger 20-pound propane tank, these heaters can deliver an astonishing 225 hours of heat.

Due to their extreme efficiency and minimal propane usage, RVers and campers often use Mr. Buddy Heaters to stay warm in the wilderness. However, as with any propane heating source, there is the potential for danger.

Close up of a light emitting heat from a portable heater, similar to a Mr. Buddy Heater.

Is a Mr. Buddy Heater Safe to Use Indoors?

Mr. Buddy Heaters often come with the indication that they are “indoor-safe.” However, you should always have ample ventilation and a working carbon monoxide detector when using these devices.

These heaters come with automatic tip-over shutoff. This increases the safety of using units indoors and can help avoid a serious situation if someone errantly bumps into them.

In some instances, users have found that the heater is overly sensitive and often shut off when jostled or shaken.

Your propane RV fridge could be a massive fire hazard when in tow 🔥

Can You Sleep with a Mr. Buddy Heater Running?

We don’t recommend putting Mr. Buddy Heaters to the test while sleeping. Many people each year leave their propane heater running while they sleep and never experience an issue. However, there are still risks.

A full-time RVer puts his buddy heater to the ultimate test.

These units have an open flame that generates the heat. Despite their “indoor-safe” rating, you never know when a curious pet or child may attempt to touch the heater while you’re sleeping. This can be dangerous, and a trip to the ER is likely not how you want to end your camping adventures.

How Many Mr Buddy Heater Deaths Have Occurred?

There have been no specific deaths due to a Mr. Buddy Heater. However, many deaths have occurred due to propane heaters. Most of these deaths were avoidable had the propane heater or other safety mechanisms worked adequately.

While Mr. Buddy Heater deaths have not occurred yet, and a properly functioning Mr. Buddy Heater produces little to no carbon monoxide, there are several situations where it can occur.

RVs in a row camping under the stars at night, and one camper glows with a light from within.

Not having proper ventilation, using third-party attachments, or disabling safety features can cause a risky problem. Propane is a hazardous gas with no natural smell, and we should treat it with respect.

How to Stay Safe While Using Your Mr. Buddy Heater

If you plan to use your Mr. Buddy Heater while camping, there are a handful of things you can do to stay safe. Follow these tips, and stay warm and safe during your adventures.

Keep the Area Clear

Mr. Buddy Heaters burn propane and create an open flame. You should be mindful of any objects that are near the fire. Blankets and other things can quickly ignite if they contact the flame.

You should also be mindful of children and pets. You don’t want curiosity to get the best of them, or they could have a severe burn. These burns can be hazardous and leave permanent scars.

Never Leave It Unattended

As with any open flame, you should never leave it unattended. Having a healthy respect for fire is essential, and you should extinguish all flames when you cannot give them attention.

If you’re dozing off, it is wise to shut down the heater to avoid falling asleep with it burning. You don’t want your Mr. Buddy Heater to ignite a fire, leading to injuries or even deaths.

A travel trailer parked next to a lake during the off season for some cold weather camping.

Open a Window

All propane heaters require proper ventilation. This helps prevent toxic carbon monoxide from building up in a small space such as a tent or camper.

Crack a window or two to keep air circulating in the room and give carbon monoxide a place to escape. You may be letting in some cold air, but the Mr. Buddy Heater will likely produce more warm air than what you let in.

Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Most RVs and campers come with a carbon monoxide detector. If you’re camping in a tent or using your Mr. Buddy Heater in a different space, having a portable carbon monoxide detector is essential. Carbon monoxide poisoning is severe and can take its toll before campers are awake.

Close up of a hand testing a carbon monoxide detector, which is a crucial piece of equipment to have if you use a Mr. Buddy Heater.

However, having a carbon monoxide detector isn’t enough. You need to ensure it is in good condition. If it takes batteries, test it regularly to ensure the batteries have a charge.

Be aware that carbon monoxide detectors have an expiration date, and know when yours expires.

Frequently Inspect Your Mr. Buddy Heater

You should inspect your Mr. Buddy Heater every time you use it. Look for signs of cracking or leaks. If you suspect a leak, fill a spray bottle with a soap-water mixture and spray it on hoses or connections where you suspect the leak. You’ll see air bubbles appearing where the propane leaks out of the system.

If you suspect a propane leak, discontinue using your Mr. Buddy Heater immediately. Do not use it again until you have solved the issue. You may need a professional to examine your heater to get to the bottom of the problem.

Use Your Senses

One of the easiest ways to stay safe when using a Mr. Buddy Heater is to use your senses. You should always have an eye on your heater and know that nothing around could cause harm to anyone. If you have to leave the room or take your attention off the heater, turn it off until you return.

Your sense of smell can also be tremendously helpful in keeping safe while using your Mr. Buddy Heater. You may not smell carbon monoxide, but you can smell smoke, melting plastic, and anything else that might burn. If you sense something funny, shut down your heater and contact a professional.

Are Mr. Buddy Heaters Worth the Risks?

If you’re on the fence about using a Mr. Buddy Heater, the risks are low that you’ll experience an issue. They’re one of the safest propane heaters on the market and do an excellent job heating.

If you follow our safety tips, there’s a good chance you’ll stay safe and warm while camping. You won’t have to freeze or spend the entire time stressing about using your Mr. Buddy Heater.

So get out there, enjoy the outdoors, and stay comfortable! Which cold-weather destination is first on your list? 

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