What Can Happen to You If You Fall Asleep by a Stove and Heater?

In this experiment, we will consider the possible effects of being exposed to a stove or heater. In particular, we’ll study whether or not you can be burned from long-term exposure.


It seems reasonable to assume that your risk of being burned would increase as your exposure time increases. We hypothesize that there is a linear relationship between the amount of time spent next to the heat source and the level of burn damage.

Preliminary Research:

Only one paper was found with information on this topic.  The authors studied patients who had been admitted into emergency rooms in Seoul over a three-month period; any patient who mentioned they had been sitting by a heater or stove as their primary activity was included, resulting in a total of 34 cases. All patients had been exposed to the heat for more than one hour. The level of burn damage ranged from first-degree (5 cases) to third-degree (11 cases), with 5 having second-degree burns. A scatter plot was used to determine that there is indeed a positive linear correlation between time spent near the heat source and severity of the injury, which implies that our hypothesis is correct.


We will perform two experiments over two different nights. During each night, we will take turns spending 30 minutes sitting next to the oven/stove/heater while blindfolded, noting any change in skin condition or pain level throughout the experiment after each 30-minute. After both members have spent one hour at the heat source, we will switch roles and spend another 30 minutes on the other side. In addition to our skin condition, we will also record the temperature of the oven/stove/heater using a thermometer.


  • One stove or heater at room temperature
  • Two chairs to sit on for one hour each
  • Blindfolding device (e.g., bandana)
  • Two digital thermometers (one for each member)


1. Find a comfortable seat by your partner close enough to touch him/her while blindfolded. Sit at this position for 30 minutes while recording data every 10 minutes.   

2. 30 minutes after the first leg of the experiment, switch seats with your partner and sit for another half-hour recording data every 10 minutes.

 3. After both members have completed one hour at the heat source, make a final entry in your lab notebook before going to sleep.

4. The next morning, use a digital thermometer to take the temperature of the stove/heater while still in bed. Record this number in your lab notebook along with any pain or redness you feel on exposed skin areas when getting out of bed.

Expected Results:

For the first leg of the experiment, we expect to see increased redness and pain with increased exposure time. The temperature of the oven/stove/heater should also increase accordingly. For the second leg of the experiment, we expect an increase in skin redness and pain levels since we will be exposing to heat for an additional 30 minutes. Additionally, we expect that there would be a correlation between increased burn severity and the amount of time spent near the heater as shown in Fig 3.

1 – Participants standing outside at 9 pm before beginning their 30-minute session next to a stove or heater

2 – Participants after first 30-minute session next to a stove or heater

3 – Correlation between times

Two cases of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning have recently been in the news. In February, a 13-year-old girl died from exposure to carbon monoxide when she fell asleep with a space heater running in her bedroom. And just last week, an elderly couple was dead from heart failure. That appears to have been exacerbating by exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide from a home heating system.

A lot of people ask: What is carbon monoxide and what can happen if I breathe it?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced. Whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burning. It has no taste or smell and cannot be visible, but can kill you. It binds to hemoglobin in the blood and replaces oxygen, which leads to asphyxiation.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is especially dangerous because it doesn’t have any symptoms until you are very sick or dead. The Centers for Disease Control has a helpful Carbon Monoxide Poisoning infographic that explains what CO poisoning does to your body. Understanding the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may help you avoid it.

So be careful when using stoves, space heaters, fireplaces, generators, snow blowers or other gasoline-powered equipment indoors! Always make sure there is proper ventilation.


We conclude that the higher the temperature of the oven/stove/heater, the more time spent near to it will increase severity. Meaning while cooking, our bodies are absorbing heat while standing in front of an oven or stove. The combined effects of absorbed heat and increased perspiration can lead to dehydration which increases the risk for other physiological problems. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to high temperatures should be avoid due to the health risks involved.