Extension Cord Safety:
Dos and Don'ts

Extension cords are a common and convenient way to bring power to electrical devices when outlets are not within easy reach. However, their misuse can lead to dangerous situations, including overheating and potential fire hazards. This guide provides essential tips on selecting, using, and maintaining extension cords to ensure safety and prevent accidents.

Selecting the Right Extension Cord

Understand Cord Ratings

Amperage: Ensure the extension cord can handle the amperage needs of the device it will power. Overloading an extension cord can cause overheating.

Length: Opt for the shortest length necessary to reach your device. Longer cords can result in voltage drop and reduced efficiency.

Environment: For outdoor use, choose cords specifically designed for exterior conditions, marked with a “W” to indicate weather resistance.

Opt for Quality

Invest in higher-quality extension cords with a thicker gauge and durable insulation. These are more capable of handling power needs safely and are less likely to become damaged over time.

Using Extension Cords Safely

One Device per Cord

Avoid plugging multiple devices into a single extension cord, which can lead to overloading and overheating. If multiple outlets are needed, use a power strip with built-in surge protection.

Avoid Daisy-Chaining

Connecting multiple extension cords together, known as daisy-chaining, can create a significant fire hazard. If a longer reach is needed, use a single cord of the appropriate length.

Keep Cords Visible

Do not run extension cords under rugs, carpets, or furniture. Covered cords can overheat and are not visible for inspection for damage or wear.

Proper Placement

Ensure cords do not create tripping hazards. Use cord covers or tape to secure cords along walls or floors when necessary.

Maintaining Your Extension Cords

Regular Inspections

Periodically inspect extension cords for signs of wear, such as fraying, cracks, or exposed wires. Damaged cords should be replaced immediately to prevent electrical shocks or fires.

Proper Storage

When not in use, coil extension cords loosely to prevent kinks or strains that can damage the cord. Store cords in a dry, cool place to prevent deterioration of the insulation.

Avoid Moisture

Keep extension cords away from water sources. Moisture can lead to short circuits or electric shock. Use cords with GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection in damp areas or outdoors.

Extension cords, while handy, should be used cautiously and with a clear understanding of their limitations to ensure safety. By selecting the appropriate cord, using it properly, and performing regular maintenance, you can significantly reduce the risks of overheating and potential fire hazards. Remember, extension cords are a temporary solution, and considering permanent electrical upgrades may be a safer and more convenient choice for areas frequently in need of additional power sources.

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