Many people use extension cords to bring power to an area where there is no outlet. While they are very convenient, they do pose a fire hazard and safety issues because outlets can catch fire, and extension cords can cause electrocution if they aren’t used properly. However, there are some things that you can do to decrease the chances of these things happening. Here are some extension cord safety tips that everyone should remember.
Only Use Extension Cords That Are Marked for Their Intended Use
Not all extension cords are made the same even though many of them look alike. They generally are marked for use indoors and outdoors. Be sure to use the right extension cords. Even though it may be a pain to have to switch out extension cords for different projects, it will keep everyone safe and can reduce the risk of a fire occurring.
If the package of the extension cord has an “S” on it, it should only be used indoors. If the package has a “W” on it, then it is meant for outdoor use. For those that will be using an extension cord to provide power to electronics or small appliances, flat cords are best. For larger appliances, the user should opt for one that has a thicker cord.
Pay Attention to the Wattage
Extension cords are made to handle a specific amount of wattage when they are being used. Using devices that have a higher wattage than what an extension cord can handle may cause a fire or even damage the device or the extension cord. Shorter cords tend to be able to handle more wattage than longer ones. Things like lights and fans can safely be plugged into 16-gauge cords. Power tools should be plugged into extension cords that are at least 14-gauge. Appliances should only be plugged into 10- or 12-gauge extension cords.
Plug Cords into the Right Outlet
While the majority of extension cords have three prongs, many outlets only have two prongs. Because of this, you may be tempted to remove the ground pin on the extension cord to make it fit into the outlet. Even though this may work initially, it can cause damage to both the extension cord and the outlet. It can also cause the cord to overheat and catch on fire. Don’t plug an extension cord into a surge protector either. Doing so can damage the surge protector. They should only plug the extension cord directly into an outlet that has three prongs.
Never Plug Two Extension Cords Into Each Other
Many individuals find that their extension cord isn’t long enough to reach the item or the outlet that they want to use. However, it is never a good idea to plug two extension cords into each other because it can cause them to overheat as they can’t handle all of the electricity being drawn. If you need a longer extension cord, it’s better to purchase one that is the correct length rather than putting your safety and belongings at risk.
Only Plug One Large Appliance at a Time into Them
Some extension cords have more than one outlet on them. While it may be perfectly safe to plug several smaller things into these outlets at one time, only plug in one large appliance at a time. This is because these types of appliances tend to use a lot of power, and they can cause the extension cord to overheat if more than one of them is plugged into it.
Occasionally Check the Temperature of the Cords
Extension cords have a covering on them that allows them to stay cool if they are in good shape and are being used safely. If an extension cord is not capable of handling the devices that are plugged into them, they will start to feel hot. You might not know that there is an issue until smoke or fire comes out of the outlet. This is why you should touch your extension cords occasionally to make sure that they still feel cool. If they don’t, unplug them immediately to keep from damaging them.
Don’t Cover Them Up
You may worry about someone tripping over an extension cord that’s strewn across a floor or a yard, so you might cover them up to try to keep this from happening. While this may reduce the likelihood of someone falling, it can also cause the extension cord to overheat. This is because the heat in the cord won’t be able to escape. Once it builds up to a certain point, it can catch on fire.
Keep Cords Away from Water
Even though extension cords are covered with durable material, it still isn’t safe for them to get wet. If they do, anyone who comes into contact with them can get shocked. Because of this, extension cords should never be used in areas that are wet or covered in snow.
Don’t Run Them Through Walls or the Ceiling
Extension cords should only be used as a temporary way to get power from an outlet to an appliance or a device. They should never be used as a permanent solution to run power through a structure. They shouldn’t be run through walls or the ceiling as a way to add additional electricity to a room. If the extension cord overheats, it can cause an entire house or building to catch on fire fairly quickly.
Only Use Extension Cords That Are in Good Shape
Extension cords tend to eventually deteriorate even if they are properly taken care of. You may notice that the cords start to fray so much that wires start to show through them. While it may be tempting to just put some electrical tape over these areas so that you can still use the cords, it isn’t safe to do so. If you accidentally touch these areas, you can electrocute yourself. If an extension cord isn’t in good shape even though it still works, it should be thrown out.
Don’t Leave the Cords Unattended
A lot of people plug in an extension cord and just walk away from it to complete other tasks, but this is a hazard. Don’t leave extension cords unattended. Keep an eye on them as well as the items that are plugged into the outlet.
Extension cords can be convenient for those who need an additional power source to plug in something temporarily. However, they must be used correctly to keep a disastrous or deadly situation from occurring.
Christian Brothers Air Conditioning Plumbing Electrical can answer any questions that consumers in Glendale, AZ, and the Phoenix metro area have about using extension cords, and we provide a variety of other services as well. These services include things like electrical and plumbing repair and air conditioning maintenance. Contact us today to learn more about all of the different types of services that we have to offer.