Extension Cord Safety Tips: Do’s and Don’ts From The Electrician
Extension cords are probably one of the best inventions ever created, especially with our growing technological world of devices and appliances, and ever-growing market of the latest power tools and machinery. They come in handy when you need something plugged in with no outlet nearby, especially outdoors when sometimes few outlets exist. That being said, there are numerous things that people do that SHOULD NOT BE DONE with an extension cord. So, let’s talk extension cord safety tips so you know what to do and what not to do to ensure you and your family’s safety.
Extension Cord Safety Tips: DO
- Always always always inspect your extension cord before using it. You never know what can happen to a cord while lying in storage for a few months. Critters can chew at them, something heavy and sharp could have pierced the cord, or your child might have thrown it around trying to find something one day and accidentally broke it with a heavy object. Even if it’s brand new and out of the box…stuff happens, and it could be defective. Bottom line: you never know, so inspect it before using it.
- Make sure that the extension cord is rated for outdoor use before using it outdoors.
- Buy only cords approved by an independent testing laboratory (example: Underwriters Laboratories (UL))
- Check the maximum capacity that the extension cord can handle, and then look at the wattage rating on the device/appliance before plugging it in.
- Choose an extension cord that utilizes a 3-prong plug. The third prong in the extension cord provides a path to a ground wire, which reduces the risk of electrical shock and fire hazards. To ensure safety, always plug an extension cord in a correctly grounded 3 slot outlet/receptacle.
- Always store unused extension cords indoors.
- Unplug extension cords when not in use. Extension cords are for temporary use only. Once they are not being used, unplug them and store them away properly.
Extension Cord Safety Tips: DON’TS
- Don’t use an extension cord for more than one appliance.
- Don’t use an extension cord for longterm use (don’t substitute it for permanent wiring). If you find yourself using multiple extension cords in your home, it’s time to call an electrician for the installation of additional wall outlets.
- Don’t cover an extension cord by running it through windows, flooring, carpets, underneath doors, etc. These cords can overheat if covered and can start electrical fires.
- Don’t overload the extension cord. This goes with always checking the maximum capacity the cord can handle and checking it with the appliance you are plugging it into.
- Don’t use multiple extension cords together. Meaning, don’t plug an extension cord into another extension cord because the first one is too short. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT SIZE CORD AND PLUG IT DIRECTLY INTO A WALL OUTLET!
- Don’t use an extension cord that is damaged in any way. DUH!
- Don’t use an extension cord that is rated for indoor use outside. DUH!
- Don’t staple, nail, or tape an extension cord….to any surface!
- Don’t use extension cords for major appliances like a refrigerator, washer, dryer, freezer, etc. REMEMBER: EXTENSION CORDS ARE TEMPORARY, NOT A PERMANENT POWER SOURCE! CALL AN ELECTRICIAN IF YOU NEED ANOTHER WALL OUTLET INSTALLED! DUH!