Does your home have too many electrical devices and too few outlets to plug them all? Chances are you’re using extension cords to power up your electrical devices. However, electrical cords can become fire hazards when used improperly. Follow these tips to use extension cords safely:
- Purchase only cords that are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Don’t overload extension cords with too many appliances. The cord can overheat and possibly cause a fire. Plug only one minor appliance into an extension cord.
- Plug major appliances, such as refrigerators, dryers, and washers, directly into a wall receptacle outlet.
- Check the maximum capacity of the extension cord and appliance or tool you’re using, and make sure you don’t exceed it.
- Fully insert the plug of an extension cord (or any plug for that matter) into an outlet.
- Unplug extension cords when you’re not using them. To safely unplug an extension cord, pull on the plug, NOT on the cord.
- Use extension cords only temporarily. Don’t substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
- Don’t run extension cords through water or snow to avoid the high risk of electric shock. Keep water away from extension cords.
- Don’t run cords through ceilings, walls, doorways, or floors. Never place cords under carpets, either. Covered cords allow little heat to escape and pose a fire hazard.
- Keep cords out of the path of foot traffic to prevent tripping. Don’t leave cords dangling anywhere where they can be pulled down and tripped over.
- If you use too many extension cords, there may be too few outlets in your home. Have a qualified electrician install additional outlets to avoid using excess extension cords.
- Avoid chaining multiple extension cords – plug extension cords directly into mounted electrical receptacles. Use extension cords that are long enough for your needs.
- Never use indoor extension cords outdoors. For outside use, only use extension cords marked for outdoor use.
- Inspect extension cords before using them. If a cord heats up or is damaged in any way, discard it.
- Always use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs. Don’t force a three-prong plug into two-prong outlets. Don’t remove or bend the ground pin to force a fit.
- When using cord-bundling devices, such as spiral wire wrap, avoid cramming cords together to prevent damaging the cord’s insulation.
- Never use staples or nails to attach cords to a surface like a wall to prevent puncturing the cord’s insulation.
To learn more about avoiding electrical hazards in your home, check out our essential home electrical safety tips and the top causes of electrical fires. For professional smoke damage repair or fire damage clean-up, contact your local PuroClean office.