Extension cords are super handy at your place when you can’t reach the wall and sockets are just not close enough. But, mind you, you can’t plug in too many things at once because it might get ugly. Your life might be endangered. For this reason, fire departments are now warning people about the hidden dangers of extension cords.
Power strips and extension cords are words that are normally used interchangeably to describe a long electrical cord that has many plugs. However, most people are not aware that they are not necessarily the same as surge protectors. These will automatically cut off power when they get overloaded.
Although extension cords have a lot of sockets, it doesn’t mean they can handle just anything. They do have a limit of how much electricity they can take. If you plug the wrong thing into a power strip or extension cord, it may cost you your life.
When it gets freezing cold outside, the first thing most people do is turn up the heat. If they don’t have a fireplace or central heating, they use a space heater. These are very practical and take up minimal space. However, you must bear in mind that extension cords also heat up. Moreover, even if a space heater is the only thing plugged into the power strip, it can end up making your house much hotter than you expected.
Source: Flickr/Your Best Digs
The Umatilla County Fire District #1 in Oregon issued a public service announcement on Facebook about the consequences of combining power strips and space heaters.
“The weather is getting colder, and people are pulling out their space heaters. We just wanted to remind you that you should NEVER plug a heater into a power strip. 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. Please share and stay safe this Winter season.”
Surprisingly, firemen can also forget about the proper use of power strips. The same fire department that posted the PSA also uploaded another photo you can see below. Their warning is that even the best-quality equipment can fail when misused.
Rachel Rothman, the chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute also added:
“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.”
According to the National Safety Fire Administration, half of all heating home fires happen in December, January, and February. Moreover, from 2009 to 2013, there were 56,000 more home fires than usual.
If you have a space heater, make sure it’s been third-party tested by an independent lab, like UL. If you don’t see a UL rating on the box, do not buy it.
Here is a story about a firefighter who adopted a baby girl.