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Space Heater, Power Strip, Cords and Fire Safety

If you plan to use portable electric space heaters, power strips, or extension cords, make sure to follow these tips and recommendations

Nearly half of all space heater fires involve electric space heaters


  • Personal heaters are discouraged and should only be used if absolutely necessary
  • Choose a heater with a thermostat, overheat protection and an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if it tips over.  
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from flammable items.
  • Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
  • Keep space heaters out of the way of foot traffic. Never block an exit.
  • Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord. 
  • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when you leave your office.

Portable Space Heater Safety (pdf; for print)

If you bring a portable space heater on campus, please contact EH&S for approval. EH&S will verify that the heater meets all the above safety features. Approved heaters will have a bright green sticker placed on them to denote that they are in compliance. 

Extension Cords and Power Strips

  • Electrical cords cannot be used for permanent electrical wiring. If an extension cord is required for temporary use, the cord must be the type with built in surge arresters. The cord must be plugged directly into the wall outlet and cannot be plugged into another surge protector or another extension cord. 
  • Electrical cords cannot be left lying across walkways, creating trip hazards.
  • Electrical cords cannot have grounds broken off or have deteriorated insulation.
  • Never connect "daisy chain" power strips and extension cords together and never daisy chain two power strips together or two extension cords together.
  • Only one power strip per electrical socket.
  • Always plug appliances such as microwaves, heaters and refrigerators directly into a wall outlet. Personal refrigerators are discouraged unless they are absolutely necessary. They require a significant power load and can present a maintenance problem if they defrost and leak due to loss of power in a building. Refrigerator in a nearby break room should be utilized at every opportunity.
  • Electrical outlets should not be overloaded. Consider requesting an additional outlet be added to your location or remove/limit excess items that require power.

Power Strip and Extension Cord Fast Facts (pdf; for print)

Storage of Items and Misc. Fire Safety

  • Flammable items should be stored at least 18 inches below the ceiling and/or sprinkler head.
  • Boxes, furniture and miscellaneous items should not be blocking exit pathways, fire extinguisher, fire pull stations, or electrical panels.
  • If your office/classroom is missing a ceiling tile, outlet cover or switch plate cover complete a facilities work order to have these items replaced.

Additional information can be found at or email fire safety questions to

Safety First, GO ARGOS!