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With power strips and outlet converters (a multiple outlet “bar” plugged directly into an existing outlet), we can plug in multiple items in or near the same outlet. 

But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
(I can eat a whole box of chocolates, but that doesn’t mean I should.)

Just like chocolate consumed in excess can overload your body with too many calories, attempting to draw too much power from an outlet or circuit can overload your home’s electrical system. Depending on how your home is wired, you may get away with it — or you may not.  If too much current is drawn, usually a circuit breaker would trip or fuses would blow, but this is never guaranteed. 

The results of overloading a circuit could range from a damaged appliance to starting a fire. That is because when too much electrical current flows thorough a circuit, things can overheat. Whether it is a wire, an outlet, or any other part along the electrical path, excess heat can cause serious problems.

Wheat Belt Public Power District and Safe Electricity remind you of the following electrical safety tips to help prevent overloading a circuit:
    •Do not plug too many things into one outlet, extension cord, power strip, multi-outlet device or outlets on the same circuit.
    •Look for loose connections or damaged or corroded wires, which can also cause an overload.
    •If you continually upgrade your home with more electrical demands (lighting, appliances, electronics and so on), your home’s circuits may not be able to handle the increased load.
    •Plug in a space heater to a dedicated outlet (with nothing else plugged in) and do not plug a space heater into an extension cord. 
    •Major appliances (e.g., refrigerator, stove, washing machine) should be plugged into their own outlet since they draw a lot of power. For smaller appliances, do not plug more than two into one outlet.
    •Know how much power you draw on an outlet or circuit; some experts recommend no more than 1,500 watts per outlet or circuit.
    •Consult a qualified electrician to assess your home’s electrical system, especially if you have an older home.

Although we take for granted that our homes are electrically sound or that we can plug in “just one more thing,” don’t take chances. When in doubt, have a qualified electrician assess your home, and mention any odd symptoms you may notice, like flickering or dimming lights, warm or discolored outlets or cover plates, and frequent blown fuses or tripped circuits.

For more information about electrical safety, visit