JACKSONVILLE, Fl.a – Jacksonville is expected to see temperatures below freezing for seven to 10 hours Sunday night, with the coldest temperatures around 28 degrees.
Many people in the area may be firing up their space heaters, but there are some things to keep in mind before doing so.
More home fires occur during the winter months than during any other part of the year, with heating equipment as the second leading cause of home fires in the U.S., according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
With the colder weather, many people use something we ordinarily don't need much of in Florida -- heat. But, using space heaters and fireplaces comes with risk if they're not used properly.
Randy Wyse from the Jacksonville Fire Rescue has suggestions for how to safely heat homes on cold winter nights.
“Really, the thing you have to have, no matter what, is a working smoke detector in your home, so if these do catch fire, and the smoke alerts, you make sure you get out quickly,” Wyse said.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year, with hundreds of people dying and thousands suffering injuries from space heater burns. There’s also the threat of property damage.
Wyse said space heaters use a lot of power, so it’s important not to plug multiple heaters into a single outlet.
“Electric heaters really draw a lot of amps, so if you overload an outlet with several of them you could have an electrical fire,” Wyse said. “So make sure you isolate them on a single circuit, and it will be a lot safer.”
Wyse also said it’s important to keep space heaters away from children and placed in a stable spot when operating them.
“A lot of them have safety features that if they are knocked over they will turn off,” Wyse said. “Not all of them have that, so it's probably best to have them on a hard surface and away from flammable material.”
Wyse said to keep the following tips in mind:
- Space heaters need to be 3 feet away from anything flammable
- Use the screen on your fireplace
- Check your smoke detectors, and change the batteries
- Make a fire escape plan in case there is a fire
- Have your heater checked annually by a professional
Another piece of advice from Wyse was when using space heaters that burn liquid fuel such as kerosene, let the heater cool down before refueling it, and never fuel it inside your home.