Here’s why you shouldn’t plug space heaters into power strips

Photo credit: Umatilla County Fire District #1

A fire department in Oregon is warning everyone about the dangers of plugging a space heater into a power strip.

Umatilla County Fire District #1 shared a picture on their Facebook that shows a melted power strip. According to fire officials, “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.”

Hundreds of people have commented on the post, and some have even shared their own horror stories about space heaters.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFP), heating equipment, such as space heaters, were involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. home fires between 2009 and 2013. That means they accounted for 16 percent of the total number of house fires. More than 1,450 people were injured and 470 people died in those fires.

“Nearly half of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February,” the NFP says. “Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for two of every five of home heating fires.”

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) warns that all space heaters should be plugged directly into a wall outlet, and you shoudn’t plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between surge protectors and power strips. Power strips without surge protectors are only for low voltage, temporary use.