The Number One Thing You Should Never Plug into a Power Strip This Winter

Ready for a ‘not-so-fun fact’? Space heaters are the second leading cause of deadly home fires. It’s a shocking truth, considering so many of us rely on these convenient little appliances to add some much-needed heat to our homes and offices during the winter months.

In a bombshell report by Kansas City news station KHSB, we learned that when space heaters are misused, they can quickly become a firefighter’s worst nightmare. Tricia Roberts with the Overland Park Fire Department gives us some real-life insight on her experience with these risky appliances.

“When we see electrical fires [caused by space heaters], often times it’s the ‘weakest link’ in that whole electrical chain,” Roberts says. “It usually is an extension cord.”

This is because virtually all power strips or extension cords are not rated to handle appliances that produce so much wattage, which means that when the user doesn’t pay attention to both the cord and the heater’s rating, a disastrous situation can ensue.

Now, we’re not saying that you should throw your beloved space heater into the trash—we just want to make sure that you are following each and every one of these guidelines before you plug yours in the next time:

• Never leave your space heater unattended

• Don’t sleep while a space heater is running

• If you do decide to plug in a space heater, do not power it with an extension cord

• Keep the heater at least three feet away from all furniture, blankets, clothing items, curtains, or other flammable materials.

Safe (and cheap!) ways to keep your home warm

In our experience, keeping your home warm during those frosty winter months has more to do with trapping in the heat, rather than creating more of it.

Get started by doing a walking tour of your home and take note of the uninsulated areas, like the space in between your door and your floor, as well as any thin windows.

To shore up your too-high doors, we recommend either investing in—or making your own—draft guards. Adding these to the rooms will help you have a fighting chance against any heat that might escape under that space. Learn how to make your own, by clicking here.

As far as thin windows are concerned, we always make sure that ours are covered in bubble wrap in the colder months. Just a layer or two on the interior sides will do. Although the hack may not be an especially pretty one, it sure has had quite the positive impact on our steep winter electric bill!

Now that you know about some good alternatives to those costly and potentially dangerous space heaters, it’s time for you to see just how damaging an unattended space heater can be. To see a simulation of a space heater going up in flames, be sure to watch the video below. Here’s to a warm and fire-free winter!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on space heater safety. Have you ever experienced a fire due to a faulty or misplaced space heater? If so, what happened? How do you keep your home warm during the cold months?