This story has been updated.
As temperatures continue to drop in metro Atlanta, be sure to heed warnings from fire officials to avoid plugging in space heaters into an extension cord or a power strip.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, such cords are not equipped to handle the additional current flow used to power space heaters. In fact, improperly plugged space heaters can overheat to more than 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit, posing significant fire and electric shock hazards.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is just as dangerous as a gun in the wrong hands,” Doug Myers, Michigan’s Covert Township fire chief, told local ABC affiliates in November.
Experts instead recommend plugging space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Other electrical devices should not be plugged into the same outlet as the heater.
According to the National Fire Protection Association’s latest data, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires in the United States, and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths.
Between 2011 and 2015, portable or stationary space heaters accounted for 43 percent of the country’s home heating fires and 85 percent of U.S. home heating fire deaths.
How to properly use a space heater
Advice from experts with NFPA and ESFI:
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels. This should include information on how to plug your space heater in.
- Make sure your device doesn’t have cracked or broken plugs or damaged wiring.
- Plug your space heater directly into a wall outlet and make sure other electrical devices are not plugged into the same outlet as the heater.
- Never place space heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture or carpet. Opt for level, flat surfaces.
- Place space heaters a minimum of three feet from anything that can burn.
- Never leave space heaters unattended and turn off the devices when people leave the room or go to sleep.
- Make sure children and pets stay away from space heaters at all times.
- Ensure smoke alarms are installed on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
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