Everyone Needs to See This Fire Department's Horrifying Warning About Space Heaters

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Facebook/Umatilla County Fire Department

As the weather gets chillier and the holiday season starts to ramp up, space heaters across the country are being pulled out of storage to make the cold a little more bearable. But some firefighters have a scary warning for parents who might not realize how dangerous these heaters can be. The Umatilla County Fire Department in Hermiston, Oregon, shared this horrifying picture that shows what can happen if you plug a space heater into a power strip.

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"We just wanted to remind you that you should NEVER plug a heater into a power strip," reads a post on the department's official Facebook page. "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."

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Umatilla County Fire District/Facebook

According to Rachel Rothman, chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute, the danger comes from the fact that people often confuse power strips with surge protectors. "A power strip doesn't limit or block surges like a surge protector does," she explained to Good Housekeeping. "You should definitely not use an extension cord or power strip, which could easily overheat. And you really shouldn't plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater for safety reasons."

Most space heaters specifically instruct people to plug them into a wall and avoid sharing the outlet with other electronics. However, if you can't help yourself in the face of firing up that dancing Santa and being extra cozy at night, the National Fire Protection Association has some helpful tips to prevent electrical fires and protect kids from horrors like that melted power strip up there, which include:

  • Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters.
  • Supervise children when a fireplace, fire pit, or other space heater is being used. Use a sturdy, metal screen to prevent contact burns, which are even more common than flame burns.
  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding, or furniture, at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Never use your oven for heating.

Keep these tips in mind this winter, and remember that your best bet is to find a dedicated outlet for your space heater, not have it share an outlet with your Christmas tree. Now, go forth and decorate! Just be careful. 

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