Keeping your home warn during the cold Kansas months can be a challenge. While portable space heaters can help generate heat, plugging them in to power strips is a fire hazard. 

Fire officials say power strips are not designed to handle the energy load of a space heater and can overheat. The heating elements in space heaters can reach 500°F to 600°F. 

Any space heater should be plugged directly into the wall and watched while in use. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are most often responsible for home heating equipment fires, accounting for more than two in five fires, as well as the vast majority of associated deaths (81%) and injuries (80%).

“Space heaters can be effective tools for heating smaller areas, but they need to be used with caution and care,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA, pointing to the tragic fire that occurred ... in Bronx, N.Y., which reportedly began with a malfunctioning space heater and resulted in 17 fatalities.

The NFPA also provided the following home heating safety tips and recommendations:

  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.