The colder weather is here and so is the need to stay warm, but if you use a space heater, its critical that you plug it directly into the wall; do not plug it into an extension cord or a power strip.
Plugging space heaters, and other high draw electrical devices, into a power strip or extension cord is a fire hazard, according to the fire authorities. Power strips and extension cords are not equipped to handle the extra current flow needed to power a space heater and they can overheat and catch fire.
The heating elements in a space heater can get up to more than 500F to 600F. They are reminding residents that a space heater should only be plugged directly into the wall, and always keep an eye on it when it's in use.
People tend to understand the dangers space heaters pose with combustible items near by, but not the dangers posed by extensions cords and power strips. People think that because the space heater is working and they haven't tripped a breaker everything is fine and safe but that's not reality. As high draw electrical devices run, they can heat up the extension cord and/or power strip which in and of itself can cause the wires to literally melt and start a fire.
From 2009 to 2013, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. home fires — accounting for 16 percent of the total, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFP). In those fires, 470 people died, 1,490 were injured and $1 billion in property damage was reported.
Nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, and space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for two of every five of home heating fires.