As most of the northern hemisphere moves into its coldest period of the year, heating systems are being turned on and in many cases space heaters are being pulled out of storage. As firefighters claim, these items should never be plugged into a power strip.
Space Heaters: The Item You Should Never Plug Into a Power Strip
Space heaters are a thing that is used very much everywhere in the world when it is cold. Understandably, we all just want to be cozy and warm when it’s cold and windy outside. Because the space heater season is on its way, firefighters from Oregon put out a very important post regarding their safety.
Their first and most important tip is to never plug your space heater into a power strip.
“You should never plug a heater into a power strip,” Umatilla County Fire District #1 in Hermiston, Oregon, wrote on Facebook as a warning. “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.”
Apparently, so many people were unaware of how dangerous that is, and the post quickly went viral.
A Fire Starter: Plugging Into a Power strip
It’s not just the Oregon fire department that shares safety tips about the space heaters. The Toledo Fire Department in Ohio also issued a similar statement after a house caught fire as a result of the misuse of a space heater. The couch caught fire from the heater and the flames quickly spread all over the house.
Space heaters’ maximum temperature can be up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, so everyone who uses them must safely do that. Their tips include:
-- Never plug into a power strip, instead always directly into a wall unit
-- Keep a minimum of three feet of space around the space heater at all times
-- Keep an eye on your space heater at all times while it is working, never turn it on while sleeping or in a different room
-- The heaters should be placed on a level, flat surfaces
-- Never put heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that portable electric space heaters are the reason for 1,200 fires a year. The Oregon firefighters’ post clarified that if users are smart and safe, then it is not wrong to use a space heater. The problems are caused by recklessness.
“The point comes down to proper use. Even the best equipment can fail if not used correctly. No one manufacturer is at fault, yet it’s all about the end user’s ability to use the product safely.”
How to Prevent Electrical Fires at Home
Even in the cold winter season, electrical fires can be prevented. Here are our most important tips to be safe from fire this winter and at all times:
- Keep all heat-producing appliances unplugged when you are not using them.
-- Hairstyling tools
Basically, anything that produces heat when turned on that can overheat and catch fire if left on too long or can turn on in the event of a malfunction or electrical surge.
- Extension Cords for temporary use only.
Do not use extension cords during the whole day, they are supposed to be used only temporarily. Speak with an electrician to install additional outlets if you need that.
- Keep the third prong.
The third prong on a power cord is there to protect against power surges and malfunctions. Consider updating two-pronged outlets in your home.
- Update your electrical system.
If you live in an old home, it probably has an old electrical system. Call an electrician to have it evaluated and consider upgrading. The risk of overheating and causing fires is much bigger with older, less advanced systems.
- Don’t use damaged power cords.
Don’t use the power cord if it is damaged somehow – frayed, a broken prong, loose from its plug, or cracked.
- Follow appliance directions.
Directions aren’t just there for optimal product use, they are there for your safety. Appliances always come with a manual that will include a section on fire safety as well as information on where to be notified of recalls.
- Don’t ignore trouble signs.
There are a few signs that either your appliance may be overheating or that the socket it is plugged into is not right. These include:
-- Burn marks or discoloration around a socket or light fixture
-- The appliance, power cord, or outlet is hot when you touch it
-- Burning smell while the appliance is working
-- Electrical sparks or shock every time the appliance is plugged in
-- Flickering light even after the bulb is replaced
-- A frequently tripping breaker or fuse
Finally, put smoke detectors in every room and make sure that they are working properly. It is a precaution in case something does go wrong, and you will be alerted and be able to get back to safety.