News On Japan

The Dangers of 'Kotatsu' Fires: What You Need to Check Now to Protect Your Life

TOKYO, Jan 22 (News On Japan) - Kotatsu, a traditional Japanese heating appliance, is generally considered safe as it does not use direct flames or gas. However, fatal accidents occur every year. Here are some tips to use kotatsu safely.

Q: Is it true that people can die from using a kotatsu? Q: "I use my kotatsu throughout the winter. I've been told that kotatsus can be dangerous if not used safely, even though I think they are much safer than stoves or heaters. What should I be cautious about?"

A: Every year, there are fires that result in fatalities. Do not become complacent with familiarity, and make sure to check how you use it. Although kotatsu is a highly safe and convenient heating appliance, it's important to be aware of the dangers it poses, such as "low-temperature burns," "dehydration," and "accidents."

Infants, the elderly, and even adults who fall asleep in a kotatsu after drinking alcohol are at risk of low-temperature burns and dehydration. The potential for accidents is often overlooked, but injuries and accidents can occur if the tabletop shifts, the cord gets tangled, or the kotatsu futon accidentally covers someone's face.

Tragically, there are indeed people who lose their lives every year. The most critical concern is residential fires caused by kotatsu. Between fiscal year 2004 and 2009, there were 179 accidents related to kotatsu, resulting in 27 deaths. Reports indicate that 70% of the deceased were over 60 years old (according to a report by the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE), Tokyo). The Consumer Affairs Agency's report for fiscal year 2021 on "Number of Fires by Type and Cause" shows that out of the building fires in one year, 47 were caused by kotatsu.

It may be basic, but because a fire can be life-threatening, it's crucial not to be overconfident in its safety and to check if you're using it safely. Ensure the following:

- No cushions or clothing are inside the kotatsu. - No furniture is pressing down on the kotatsu's power cord. - The kotatsu heater is not collecting dust. - The power is not left on when the kotatsu is not in use.

Adhering to these safe usage practices is essential. Deaths caused by kotatsu can be prevented by avoiding fires.

Source: MDPR

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