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Verify: Is plugging a space heater into a power strip a potential fire hazard?

A viral post from a Utah fire department warns of the dangers.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- A warning from a Utah fire department is grabbing attention and thousands of shares online. The post claiming you should not plug space heaters into a power strip.

Morgan County Fire & EMS, Morgan, Utah. 503 likes · 6 talking about this. Emergency Rescue Service

So we wanted to verify: Is plugging a space heater into a power strip a potential fire hazard?

DeKalb County Fire Investigator Michael Price confirmed this to our 11Alive verify team, demonstrating how extension cords and power strips can overload when a space heater exceeds the capacity.

"Anytime some of these items are being used, the manufacturer's warnings and labels should be followed. The one we tested explains a space heater should be plugged into a wall outlet. The reason for that is if the appliance does happen to have any issues, then the electrical system in the house is made to detect those issues."

"What's common is...a lot of people will run an extension cord from another room into where they want a space heater to be…people cover those extension cords with area rugs, which all cause it to build up heat."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) reinforcing space heaters should be plugged directly into the wall.

Price advises to always read the manufacturer's instructions before using a space heater. Even then, pay attention.

"If your breaker continues to trip," Price said, "it's telling you there's a problem."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is the second leading cause of us home fires, and the 3rd leading cause of home fire deaths.

With the N.F.P.A., F.E.M.A. and the DeKalb County Fire Department backing it up, we're calling these posts VERIFIED.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends the following safety tips for space heaters:

-Keep anything that can burn, such as bedding, clothing and curtains, at least 3 feet away from the heater. 

-Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over, it shuts off.

-Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room. 

-Plug portable heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.

-Only use portable heaters from a recognized testing laboratory