PARMA, Ohio -- A social media post from a fire department that warns against plugging space heaters into power strips is making the rounds once again.

So 11Alive's sister station WKYC wanted to verify the claims behind it. Is this combination a potential fire hazard?

Parma, Ohio Fire Department spokesman TJ Martin says yes.

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“There is a very definite difference between a surge protector and a power strip," said Martin.

It’s usually about $30 and not all power strips are created equally.

Pricier ones usually have surge protection, according to Martin.

"There's a reason they charge you 99 cents for one and another one is $28," Martin said. "Sometimes penny wise is pound foolish. Spend the extra money if you are going to get a power strip and get a good one."

Martin warns cheaper power strips without surge protectors are low voltage, for temporary use and should have nothing plugged in that needs a prolonged power supply.

"Because they have so much startup energy and because they heat up so quickly and for such a prolonged time, the heat transference goes back down to the power strip and causes it to overheat," Martin said.

Christmas lights, he said, are fine, but heating units are not. Even if the heater is plugged directly into the wall, Martin warns residents to be careful.

"If it requires 15 amps, make sure your outlet is 15 amps," he said. "Not 10; not 5. Over is fine, not under."


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