Have you ever used an extension cord? In today's hi-tech world, this may seem like a question that doesn't need any answer. It is as obvious as asking, do you use the toothbrush at home. However, the need to ask this question cannot be overlooked as it directly relates to the safety of our family.

Whether it is light that Christmas tree, or to use that power drill we got as a gift, everyone needs an extension cord. While everyone uses them, the irony is, not everyone is aware of the proper way to use them, and the dangers associated with using these cords improperly.

In this short guide, we will review some do's, don't s, and tips to use extension cords safely.

extension cord safety

"Safety First" is not a  hanging sign:

Do follow these steps:

 

Please follow these rules and make sure 'Safety First' sign is truly followed.

 

  • Extensions cords are made of special material (basically rubber and plastic) which are non-conductors so we take it for granted that extension cords are electric shock-proof. However, we forget that these materials do age and rupture somewhere along the length. So, it is imperative that before starting to use a new or old cord, inspect it for any visible damage or rupture and avoid the danger of getting electric shock or fire due to exposed electric wires.

 

  • One easily overlooked aspect of an extension cord is using it without the grounding prong. This is very common when multiple cords are connected to each other.  Now some of the connecting cords do not have the ground prong. This causes a false sense of security as one of the cords may have that prong but the other cords may not have that so along the connections that may not necessarily be true. Please make sure all the connected cords and the power outlet have the ground prong present and working. There is Ground interrupter available that can test and alert for any interruption in the ground connection and help against the potential hazard.

 

  • Extension cords sockets are designed for safety and therefore they provide tight connections to the connecting tips. if these plug or pins are not properly inserted into these joints, the tips with live current may remain exposed.  Please make all plugs are inserted fully. One way to address both of the above points is to use a longer extension cord and avoiding the need to connect multiple cords together.

 

  • Extension cords come in varieties in terms of making, material, and capacity. While it is easy to compare them by price, it is not easy to identify what to use when. If you need to use an extension cord for a certain type of use such as a power tool, make sure to check the rating and capacity marked on the label attached to the extension cord for the appropriate use. Using a low wattage rated cord for a high power need tool may cause fire due to the heat generated by the electric current.

 

For yours and the safety of others, please Don't practice these steps:

 

  • Ever came across an outlet that does not have the ground prong option? How do we connect the three-prong socket to that outlet? Let's remove the third prong as without it also the connection works, so why bother, right? Wrong! It may seem easy to get the job done by doing so, you are inviting big trouble. Removing the grounding pin can cause electric shock while using it.

 

  • It is almost the night 24th Dec. and you forgot to put the lights on the porch are not lit because of an old extension cord from last year. So, you try to to to go and find another extension cord that you stocked up in the basement. You are so happy and proud of yourself that you kept an extra one. But, should you be? You forgot to check the newly found extension cord is for indoor use only. It's better to be safe and not to have the Christmas light than to use the indoor use extension cord outside.

 

  • As much help and convenience extension cords provide, in a way they are a nuisance too. They run all around as there is no proper place for them. Whether electric current is flowing or not, this in itself is a hazard as it can get tangled and cause tripping. So, what do we do? many of us hide the extension cords under the rug so that they are not visible. Since these are loose connection wires, do not let them be out of your sight as you may not notice the damage or improper connections. And of course, never think of stapling these cords, a big no, no!

 

  • Since sometimes the cords are longer than the required length, it is easy to think of coiling it and keep the extra length in the corner as a coil. This could also create a safety hazard.

 

General tips:

 

We all have heard that common sense is not so common. Here are some common tips that may seem simple but not everyone follows.

  • Remember to remove the extension cords from the plus when the work is done.
  • Many people try to squeeze every penny out of the extension cord and keep using it until it shows major sign of damage. never put a bandage or any such material to keep using even a slightly damaged extension cord. better to send that damaged cords to the garbage disposal.

 

In summary, do not forget that using the electric extension cords is for temporary convenience. It is not a permanent solution. If you do need a permanent connection, better call a certified electrician and get the wiring done. And remember, there is no better way to apply "Better Safe than sorry" than while using the extension cords.

Texas Department of Insurance has published a Factsheet that you can find here. Please use it as a reference.

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Have a safe day!