How To Safely Use Extension Cords
Extension cords are a necessary evil in many homes and businesses. They can be very helpful when you need to extend the reach of an electrical outlet, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly. This blog post will discuss how to use extension cords in your home or business safely. We will cover everything from cord selection to plugging them incorrectly. Follow these tips, and rest assured that your extension cords will be safe and effective!
Why Are Extension Cords A Safety Hazard?
Extension cords are often used in homes and businesses to easily extend an electrical outlet’s reach. However, extension cords can also be a safety hazard if they are not used properly. Here are some reasons why extension cords can be dangerous:
- Extension cords can overheat and start fires.
- Extension cords can be a trip hazard.
- Extension cords can be chewed on by pets or children, which can cause electrocution.
- Extension cords can be damaged by weather, vermin, or physical movement, which can lead to electrocution.
If you must use an extension cord, choose one rated for the amount of electricity you will be using, and do not overload it. Also, keep extension cords away from high-traffic areas to reduce the risk of trips and falls. Finally, always unplug extension cords when you are finished using them.
Selecting Extension Cords
The first step in safely using extension cords is to select the right cord for the job. Not all extension cords are created equal! Some are only meant for indoor use, while others can be used indoors and outdoors. Be sure to check the cord’s labeling before you purchase.
- Indoor extension cords are typically made of lighter-gauge wire than outdoor extension cords. This is because they don’t need to be able to handle as much electrical current. Indoor extension cords are also typically not weather-resistant, so they should never be used outdoors.
- Outdoor extension cords are made of heavier-gauge wire than indoor extension cords. This is because they need to be able to handle more electrical current. Outdoor extension cords are also weather-resistant, so they can be used in any weather.
When selecting an extension cord, you should also consider the following factors:
1. Approved By An Independent Testing Laboratory
When shopping for electronics, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers posed by faulty or counterfeit cords. In some cases, these cords can overheat, posing a fire hazard. In others, they may not provide enough power to operate the device properly.
As a result, purchasing cords from a reputable source and checking that an independent testing laboratory has approved them is always advisable. Taking these precautions can help ensure that your electronics are safe and that you get the most out of your investment.
2. Use Extension Cords That Are Marked For Outdoor Use
Working on outdoor projects can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. One of the most important safety measures is using extension cords marked for outdoor use. These cords are designed to withstand exposure to the elements.
They have a higher rating for insulation and weather resistance. as a result, they are less likely to suffer damage that could cause electrical shocks or fires. Furthermore, outdoor extension cords are typically brighter in color, making them easier to spot in grass or underbrush. Using the proper type of cord can help ensure your safety and the successful completion of your project.
3. Make Sure That It Is Rated To Handle The Wattage Of The Devices
Using the correct type of cord is critical to ensuring the safe operation of any electrical device. The gauge of a cord indicates its size, with smaller numbers indicating thicker wires that can safely handle more electrical current.
When selecting a cord, it is important to ensure it is rated to handle the wattage of its devices. Otherwise, there is a risk of overheating and potential fire hazards. Following this simple rule can help ensure your electrical devices’ safe operation.
4. Consider The Length You’ll Need
When choosing an electrical cord, it is important to consider the length you need. Longer cords can’t handle as much current as shorter cords of the same gauge. This is because the wire’s resistance increases as the cord’s length increases.
As a result, longer cords are more likely to overheat, which can pose a fire hazard. For this reason, it is important to choose an electrical cord that is the appropriate length for the task at hand. By taking this simple precaution, you can help to keep your home safe from fire hazards.
5. Choose Cords With Polarized Or Three-prong Plugs.
Electrical cords are an essential part of many appliances and electronic devices, but they can also be a source of danger. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3,300 people are injured yearly by electrical cord safety hazards. To help minimize the risk of injury, it is important to choose cords with polarized or three-prong plugs.
Polarized plugs have one blade that is wider than the other, which helps to ensure that the current flows in the correct direction. Three-prong plugs also help to improve safety by providing a dedicated ground path for electrical current. By taking these simple precautions, you can help to keep your home safe from electrical hazards.
Safe Use Of Extension Cords | 24 Safety Tips
Extension cords are a common household item but can be dangerous if not used properly. Every year, people are injured or even killed by extension cords. Here are 24 safety tips for the safe use of extension cords:
1. Do Inspect An Extension Cord For Physical Damage Before Use
Before plugging in an extension cord, inspecting it for any physical damage is essential. Damaged cords can pose a severe fire hazard, and it’s essential to ensure the cord is in good condition before using it. Look for any frayed or bare wires, and make sure that the plugs are securely attached. If you see any damage, don’t use the cord – instead, replace it with a new one.
2. Do Check The Wattage Rating On The Appliance Or Tool
It’s important to be aware of the wattage rating on the appliance or tool using the extension cord. A cord with a lower rating may not be able to handle the power requirements and could overheat, posing a fire hazard. In general, it’s best to err on caution and choose a heavier-duty cord than you think you need. That way, you can be sure your appliance or tool will have the power it needs without putting your home at risk.
3. Mark Of An Independent Testing Laboratory
Electrical accidents are more common than you might think. Thousands of people are injured or killed annually in the US due to electrical accidents. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones is to ensure that all equipment and extension cords bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories).
UL is a nonprofit organization that tests and certifies products for safety. When you see the UL mark, you can be confident that the product has been thoroughly tested and meets strict safety standards.
4. Do Fully Insert The Extension Cord Into The Outlet
A fully inserted extension cord is a must for safe electrical usage. If the cord isn’t fully inserted, then it could come loose and cause an electrical hazard. Even if the cord is plugged in securely, partial insertion can cause arcing at the connection point, which will degrade the wires and create a fire hazard over time. To avoid these dangers, always insert the cord fully into the outlet. It only takes a few seconds to do, but it could save your life.
5. Do Replace An Outlet If A Plug Is Too Loose In The Outlet
A loose plug can be a fire hazard. If the plug is not snug in the outlet, heat can build up and cause a fire. Replacing the outlet is the best way to ensure the problem does not occur again. Another reason to replace the outlet is that loose plugs can damage the appliance cord. Over time, this damage can lead to a short circuit and cause a fire.
Therefore, it is important to be proactive and replace outlets not functioning properly. Not only will this help to prevent fires, but it will also prolong the life of your appliances.
6. Do Match Up The Plug And Extension Cord On A Polarized Cord
It’s always important to read the labels on electrical cords and appliances before plugging them in. One detail often overlooked is that polarized plugs have one slot wider than the other. This is intentional, as it ensures the cord is inserted correctly and the current flows in the correct direction.
You could damage the appliance or start a fire if you try to force a polarized plug into a non-polarized socket or insert it upside-down. Therefore, matching the plug and extension cord on a polarized cord is always best.
7. Do Keep Extension Cords Away From Water
If you have accidentally unplugged an appliance by pulling on the cord, you know how important it is to keep extension cords away from water. Water and electricity do not mix; even a small amount of moisture can cause an electrical shock.
In addition, wet extension cords are more likely to fray or become damaged, creating a fire hazard. For these reasons, keeping extension cords dry and out of reach of children and pets is always best. If you must use an extension cord in wet conditions, be sure to select one that is rated for outdoor use.
8. Do Use GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Protection
Every year, hundreds of people are injured or killed by electrical shocks. Many of these accidents could have been prevented using a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter. GFCIs protect against electrical shock by immediately shutting off power when they detect an imbalance in the current. They are essential in wet or damp environments, where the risk of shock is more significant. Extension cords are often used in such environments, so it is essential to ensure they are equipped with GFCIs.
9. Do Keep Extension Cords Away From Children And Animals
As any parent knows, keeping children and animals safe around the home can be challenging. One potential hazard that is often overlooked is extension cords. While extension cords can be very useful, they can also be dangerous if not used properly. If a child or animal chews on an exposed extension cord, it could receive a painful shock.
Additionally, extension cords can be a trip hazard, and young children or pets could easily become tangled. For these reasons, it is important to keep extension cords out of reach of children and animals. Keeping them away from high-traffic areas is advisable to reduce the risk of tripping.
10. Do Pull On The Plug, Not The Cord
Anyone who has ever dealt with an extension cord knows it can be frustrating. If you’re not careful, they can become tangled and knotted, making them difficult to use. And, if you’re not even more careful, you can damage the cord. One of the most common ways people damage extension cords is by pulling on the cord rather than the plug when removing them from an outlet.
The constant tugging can weaken the wires and eventually cause them to break. Not to mention, it’s just a good way to get yourself tangled up in the cord. So next time you need to remove an extension cord from the outlet, save yourself some hassle and pull on the plug, not the cord.
11. Do Store Extension Cords Indoors
Many people believe that it is safe to store extension cords outdoors. However, this is not the case. While extension cords are designed to withstand weather conditions, they can quickly succumb to damage from exposure to sunlight, rain, and snow.
Over time, the insulation on the cord can break down, exposing the wires. This can create a serious fire hazard. Wildlife can also chew through the insulation, leading to a dangerous situation. For these reasons, it is always best to store extension cords indoors in a cool, dry place.
12. Do Unplug Extension Cords When Not In Use
As any homeowner knows, extension cords can be a real godsend when tackling those hard-to-reach projects. However, it’s important to remember that extension cords are not meant to be permanent fixtures in your home. When they’re not in use, it’s important to unplug them and store them safely out of the way. Leaving extension cords plugged in when they’re not being used can be a fire hazard and waste energy. Extension cords can become frayed or damaged over time, posing a serious safety risk.
13. Do Keep Slack In Flexible Extension Cords
If you’ve ever had to replace an electrical cord because the insulation has worn away or the wires are frayed, you know how important it is to take care of your cords. One way to extend the life of your cords is to keep a little slack in them. Pulling on a stretched tight cord puts tension on the electrical terminals, which can eventually lead to damage. By keeping a little slack in the cord, you can avoid this problem.
Additionally, slack prevents cords from being accidentally pulled out of outlets, which could damage the outlet or the cord itself. So next time you reach for that extension cord, remember to leave a little slack. It could save you time and money in the long run.
14. Do Put Safety Covers
Electrical wires are found in nearly every home and are essential to our daily lives. However, they can also be dangerous if not used properly. One way to help prevent accidents is to put safety covers on unused receptacle outlets on extension cords. This way, there is no chance of someone accidentally touching the live wires and getting electrocuted.
Safety covers also help keep dust and other debris from accumulating in the outlets, which could create a fire hazard. By taking this simple precaution, you can help to keep your family safe from electrical accidents.
15. Do Reduce Long Cord Lengths
Long cords can be a major tripping hazard, and they can also damage your furniture and walls. When possible, it’s always best to reduce the length of cords by installing additional electrical outlets. This is especially important in high-traffic areas like living rooms and kitchens. Not only will this help to keep your family safe, but it will also protect your property from potential damage.
16. Do Consider Installing Overhead Pendants
Pendants are a type of light fixture hanging from the ceiling and come in various sizes, shapes, and styles. While they are often used for decorative purposes, pendants can also be a great way to reduce trip hazards in your home. Overhead pendants provide focused light that illuminates the area directly beneath them, making it easier to see potential obstacles.
In addition, pendants can be hung at different heights to create different levels of illumination, which can further reduce the risk of trips and falls. If you are concerned about trip hazards in your home, consider installing some overhead pendants. With their focused light and versatile design, pendants can help you create a safer environment for everyone in your family.
17. Do Use Cord Protectors If A Cord Must Cross An Aisle
A cord protector is a device that helps to keep cords and cables safely in place. They are typically made of durable materials like PVC or rubber and can be used on indoor and outdoor surfaces. Cord protectors are essential in high-traffic areas, where loose cables pose a tripping hazard.
When placed over a cord, a cord protector helps keep it firmly in place, making it less likely to become dislodged. Additionally, cord protectors can help prolong a cord’s life by protecting it from wear and tear. If you need to run a cord across an aisle, use a cord protector to keep everyone safe.
18. Do Use Three-wire Extension Cords
While working on any construction site, it is important to be aware of the potential hazards that can present themselves. One such hazard is a shock from electrical currents. To help prevent this, always use three-wire extension cords when running temporary power from the source to the end use.
These cords have an additional grounding wire that helps to dissipate electrical currents, making them much safer than two-wire cords. Additionally, always use double-insulated tools with two-prong plugs when plugging into a three-wire extension cord. This will help to protect you from electrical shock further.
19. Do Not Use An Indoor Extension Cord Outdoors
Many people believe it is perfectly safe to use an indoor extension cord. After all, it’s just a piece of wire, right? Wrong. Indoor extension cords are not designed for outdoor use and pose a serious safety hazard. One of the biggest dangers is the risk of electrical shock. Extension cords are exposed to moisture when used outdoors, which can increase the wire’s conductivity and lead to a dangerous shock.
In addition, animals or lawn equipment are more likely to damage outdoor extension cords, creating a fire hazard. For these reasons, using an outdoor-rated extension cord is always best when working outdoors.
20. Do Not Overload Cords
As anyone who has ever dealt with a tangled mess of cords knows, they can be frustrating and difficult to manage. However, it’s important to remember that cords are difficult to deal with and can also be dangerous.
Overloading a cord with more than the proper electrical load can cause it to overheat and potentially start a fire. That’s why it’s important to be careful when plugging in multiple devices and to ensure each cord is rated for the load its carrying. By following these simple precautions, you can help to keep yourself and your home safe from harm.
21. Do Not Run Extension Cords Through Doorways, Holes In Ceilings, Walls, Or Floors
Extension cords are a handy way to bring power to areas of your home that are not near an outlet. However, it is important to use them safely to avoid damaging your home or creating a fire hazard. When running extension cords, never run them through doorways, holes in ceilings, walls, or floors. This can damage the cord and create a tripping hazard. Also, use rated cords for the amount of power you will be drawing, and do not overload outlets.
22. Do Not Move, Bend, Or Modify Any Of The Extension Cord Plug’s Metal Parts
Extension cords are a convenient way to bring power to hard-to-reach places. However, using them safely is important to avoid damage to the cord or potential electrocution. One of the most important safety rules is never to modify the plug. This includes bending or moving the metal parts, damaging the insulation, and creating a shock hazard.
23. Do Not Force A Plug Into An Outlet
Many people have experienced the frustration of plugging an appliance into an outlet only to find that the fit is too tight. Using a little force to get the plug to fit can be tempting, but this is a dangerous practice that can lead to serious problems. A plug forced into an outlet can damage the wiring and create a fire hazard.
In addition, it can be difficult to remove a plug that has been forced into an outlet, which can cause further damage when you try to remove it. If you find yourself in this situation, the best action is to stop and seek professional help. A qualified electrician can safely and quickly resolve the problem, ensuring that your home is safe from hazards.
24. Do Not Use An Extension Cord When It Is Wet
It is never a good idea to use an extension cord when wet. Water and electricity don’t mix, and even a small amount of moisture can cause a serious shock. Extension cords are also more susceptible to damage when wet, so there’s a greater risk of them shorting out and causing a fire.
If you need to use an extension cord in wet conditions, ensure it is properly insulated and rated for outdoor use. And always err on caution by unplugging the cord and letting it dry completely before using it again.
Extension cords are a handy way to bring power to hard-to-reach places. However, using them safely is important to avoid damage to the cord or potential electrocution. Following the simple safety tips outlined above can help keep yourself and your home safe from harm.