• Using a space heater to stay warm? How to make sure it's safe

    By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Space heaters are selling fast as the Jacksonville area prepares for near-freezing temperatures Tuesday night and even colder temperatures later this week.

    Roy Solano says he can’t stand the cold.

    “I hate it,” Solano said. “I came to Florida to stay warm.”

    Temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s and we could see some snow flurries in Northeast Florida.

    Shelves were nearly empty at a Jacksonville Home Depot Tuesday after store associates say many people rushed to buy space heaters.

    Solano bought one of the few left – a small space heater that he hopes will help keep his family and 4-year-old daughter warm.

    “When you take it out of the box, you want to inspect it. That's the first thing you should do,” Amy Praeveatt with Home Depot said.

    Space heaters caused more than 25,000 fires and 300 deaths in 2017.

    A New Year's Day fire in a historic church in St. Augustine was blamed on a space heater mishap.

    Praeveatt says there are several things you need to check before plugging one in.

    She says to look at the cord and make sure there are no exposed wires or splits. 

    You should also look at the body of the heater. She says kinks or dings could be evidence of a manufacturer defect.

    Two more things to check – the outlet in your home and objects around the heater.

    Praeveatt says you want to make sure the outlet is clear of debris and paint and no objects are close to the heater.

    “No garments, no blankets, no curtains. Three hundred and sixty-five degrees of absolute clearance – with all heaters, especially electric heaters,” Praeveatt said.

    Praeveatt says space heaters should be used for no longer than 10 years, especially because safety features have improved.

    She said newer models have thermostats and emergency shut-off switches -- features she says can prevent fires.

    If you’re using a space heater, you can find more information about how to keep your family safe on energy.gov.

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