Burning surge protector could have been tragic

The family in a home in Vinton smelled something burning.  It was a surge protector that an...
The family in a home in Vinton smelled something burning. It was a surge protector that an extension cord had been plugged into. The cord was powering a space heater.(Vinton fire department | Vinton Volunteer Fire Department)
Updated: Dec. 11, 2018 at 7:45 PM CST
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The holiday season is also a season for fires.... A Vinton family smelled something burning, called the fire department and it was this-- a surge protector. Vinton fire Chief Chris Vice says a heater was plugged into an extension cord which was plugged into a surge protector. He says don't do that.

"Luckily the occupants were awake. They smelled the smoke and were able to contact us. They started shutting breakers off in the house because they thought it was an electrical issue. We got there and found out what it was and luckily there was no further hazard. But had they been asleep when this happened it could have been a whole different story."

Chief says the heater was being used to keep some animals warm. Vice says a heater or other appliance that draws a lot of wattage should always be plugged into a wall. He demonstrated the wrong way on a heater and extension cord at the fire department where, amazingly the cords became hot after less than five minutes.

"I wouldn't use any extension cord on any type of appliance. If you're using it to plug in a small surge protector like to charge your cell phone, maybe have a small lamp, led lights, that kind of thing. But when you go into putting in appliances, space heaters, kitchen appliances, that type of thing. Those need to be directly wired into the house or plugged into an outlet that's directly wired to the house."

If you have to use an extension cord or surge protector, he says use high quality.

Vice says it’s also important to check smoke detectors and make sure they are properly located and working. And if you can’t afford smoke detectors, call your local fire department. They can likely get you free ones.

For more safety tips click here.

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