Sporadic cold weather during the winter make space heaters quite popular throughout Florida. However, these common household devices can be quite dangerous. In fact, just recently there was a deadly fire in the Bronx, NY that resulted in 17 deaths many injuries. The cause of this fire was a space heater. According to U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell, nearly half of all fatal house fires involve space heaters. Data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that portable heaters are involved in about 1,700 fires per year, resulting in about 80 deaths and 160 injuries.
Important safety tips for space heaters
- Space heaters should be kept at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn (i.e. upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding)
- Place space heaters on a solid, flat surface away from children, foot traffic, or exits, plugged directly into the wall outlet.
- Never plug a space heater into an extension cord. If the extension cord is not designed for the load that a space heater draws, in terms of energy, it can potentially overheat and spark a fire.
- Running a space heater for too long can cause a fire. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how long to run the space heater.
- Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave the room or go to bed. In other words, these devices should be treated like a burning candle.
- Do not leave space heaters running unattended in a confined space around infants, or individuals with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities. Doing so may result in hyperthermia, or overheating.
For the most part, Florida winters are quite mild. With this said, in the event of a severe cold front, it is important to implement safe heating practices. If you are using a space heater, it is critical that it only be used in a room that is being occupied with adults that are awake and alert. Should you need heating at night during sleep, it is much safer to simply bundle up with plenty of blankets. Keep in mind, with space heaters being used so rarely in South Florida, it is quite likely that they will have plenty of dust on them when turned on. This can result in an additional fire risk. As with anything, common sense safety protocols will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe.
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