As temperatures drop and winter sets in, an Oregon fire department reminds residents about a little-known safety risk that may put you in danger.
Umatilla County Fire District #1 shared an eerie photo of a burnt and melted power strip on Facebook Sunday to show occupants the damage that could be caused by plugging a space heater into a strip rather than a wall outlet.
"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," officers explained.
"This is an image from our fire station when a surge protector was misused," the station added. "Even the firefighters need a lesson."
Space heaters pose a danger when used this way because a power strip doesn't block surges or limit a flow the way surge protectors would, Good Housekeeping Institute's Chief Technologist Rachel Rothman said. Also, many space heaters have their own instructions urging users to plug them directly into the wall.
"You should definitely not use an extension cord or power strip, which could easily overheat," Rothman explained. "And you really shouldn't plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater for safety reasons."
A report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) added that while only 32 percent of home heating fires involve space heaters, they are involved in 79 percent of home heating fire deaths for various reasons.
NFPA encourages space heater users to follow appropriate safety tips for proper use. These include keeping any objects or children at least three feet from the heater to prevent burns, plugging the cord directly into a wall outlet and unplugging the heater when it isn't in use.