Warning: Don’t Plug a Space Heater Into a Power Strip, Extension Cord

December 4, 2017 Updated: December 4, 2017

During the cold winter months, a local fire department is urging people not to plug a heater into a power strip.

“We just wanted to remind you that you should NEVER plug a heater into a power strip. These units are not designed to handle the high current flow needed for a space heater and can overheat or even catch fire due to the added energy flow,” the Umatilla County Fire District No. 1 said in a Facebook post that was later made unavailable.

Attached to the post was a picture of a warped, melted power strip that was presumably destroyed by a space heater.

“Extension cords are for temporary use only. The more power passing through it, and distance it travels causes heat build up, or resistance. This is a big cause of fires we have. Using numerous power cords together also called daisy chaining is actually a fire code violation for businesses,” the post read, according to Dearly.com.

Using outlet adapters is also not recommended.

“In general, outlets should only be used as designed. Putting six-outlet adapters into a two-outlet is overusing the designed wiring. If using with low voltage items like phone chargers or lamps, it should be fine. Using with high usage items like appliances or heaters … you may have issues. Truly, consult an electrician for professional advice on power consumption and outlet use,” the department said.

The National Fire Protection Association says that space heaters make up 32 percent of “home heating fires,” but it noted that they are “involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths.”

“The leading factor contributing to space heater fires in general was heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding. Other leading factors contributing to home space heater fires were failure to clean, which is principally related to creosote build-up in chimneys, and leaving an operating space heater unattended,” the group says on its website.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, meanwhile, has warned against using extension cords or power strips with space heaters to reduce fire risks. It says that space heaters cause 1,100 fires each year in the United States, killing about 50 people and dozens of injuries.


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