Space Heater Fires

North Florida’s first frost is here, and residents of Gainesville, The Villages, Lake City, Ocala, and surrounding areas are already pulling out their winter coats and gloves.  Many homes in Florida are not equipped with central heating, deemed not worth the cost or trouble for the relatively short winter season.  Many residents of Alachua, Levy, Lake, Sumter, Putnam, Marion, and Columbia counties will be purchasing portable space heaters or pulling their old ones out of storage to help them stay warm in these long winter nights.  Here are some tips to keep safe and warm for the holidays and into the New Year.
Electric Heaters

  • Only use space heaters in open areas, do not use under desks or near curtains, or other flammable materials such as wood, clothing, etc.
  • Never cover heater electrical cords under carpets or mats.
  • Only plug heaters into electrical outlets, no extension cords or power strips. The amplitude of space heaters is very high and likely to overload the materials found in extension cords and power strips.
  • Do not operate the heater while unattended or sleeping. The best practice is to heat the room before going to bed and unplug the heater before sleeping.

Kerosene Heaters – Note:  Kerosene heaters have been banned or restricted in use in many states and local jurisdictions.  Please consult your local authorities before operating a kerosene heater in your home.

  • Ensure that you operate in a very spacious and well-ventilated area. The burning of kerosene emits high levels of carbon monoxide.
  • NEVER USE GASOLINE. Kerosene is a slow-burning fuel, making it suitable for heating, do not use any other type of fuel or mix fuel.
  • Replace the heater wick annually and clean monthly. Also, check the heater’s fuel tank when removing from storage, ensure there is no water in the reservoir, and the entire unit is clear of debris.

Space heaters are directly responsible for over 450 home fires every year.  They are also extremely deadly due to the proximity to sleeping residents.  Most new space heaters are equipped with automatic shut off mechanisms that will shut the power off to the unit if it is tipped over or reaches a dangerously high temperature.  However, these mechanisms also have a history of being defective and are, in no way, a sure safety precaution.  If you plan on using a space heater over the winter, be sure to check your smoke alarms and install new batteries.  If you are using a heater that requires some type of fuel source (other than electric), you may want to consider purchasing a Carbon Monoxide alarm.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless and fatal gas and is often goes undetected.
If you have experienced property damage, personal injury, or even death of a loved one due to a defective space heater, the attorneys at Massey & Duffy can help you with your claim.  Our attorneys are experienced in personal injury due to defective products.  Call our office at (352) 505-8900 to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION today.


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