Health, Safety, Security and Environment

Photo of the day: Extension Cord Safety Tips

6 min read

The average homeowner often looks to extension cords as the quick answer for many of their electrical woes. And why not? Extension cords make up for the inadequate placement of outlets and come in pretty handy when placing a TV 15 feet away from the nearest power source.

Stretching the reach of your electrical current through these portable wires is wonderfully convenient when used properly, but extension cords can also overheat and cause fires when used improperly. In fact, extension cords are to blame for around 3,300 home fires, resulting in 50 deaths and 270 injuries each year.

Extension cords aren’t simply plug-and-go tools, as so many people treat them.iFollow these tips by the photo of the day to ensure that your home stays safe when extension cords are in use:

Not enough cord for your lamp or radio to reach the nearest outlet? Just plowing through the junk drawer for an extension cord? This may not be a good idea. Extension cords can be very helpful in delivering power right where we need it. However, regardless of the gauge or rating of the cord, an extension cord is a temporary solution and is not meant to be used as a long-term extension of your household’s electrical system.
Using extension cords properly is critical to your safety. With continu­ous use over time, an extension cord can rapidly deteriorate, creating a potentially dangerous electric shock or fire hazard. we offer the following tips for staying safe from electric shock and electrical fires:

  • Do not overload extension cords or allow them to run through water or snow on the ground.
  • Do not substitute extension cords for permanent wiring.
  • Do not run through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. If the cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in a fire hazard.
  • Do not use an extension cord for more than one appliance.
  • Heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have additional outlets installed where you need them?
  • Multiple plug outlets must be plugged directly into mounted electrical receptacles; they cannot be chained together.
  • Make sure the extension cord or temporary power strip you use is rated for the products to be plugged in, and is marked for either indoor or outdoor use.
  • The appliance or tool that you are using the cord with will have a wattage rating on it. Match this up with your extension cord, and do not use a cord that has a lower rating.
  • Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn.
  • Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots for the plug. Do not cut off the ground pin to force a fit. This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock. Never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
  • Use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs.
  • Buy only cords approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Extension Cord Designations

  • S: Designed for general Use
  • W: Rated for Outdoor Use
  • J: Standard 300 Voltage Insulation
  • T: made from Vinyl Thermoplastic
  • P: Parallel Wire Construction (Air Conditioner Cords and Household Extension Cords)
  • O: Oil-Resistant
  • E: Made from TPE

Code Length and Amperage Limits

  • 25 – 50 Feet Extension Cords
    • 16 Gauge(1-13 Amps)
    • 14 Gauge (14-15 Amps)
    • 12-10 Gauge (16-20 Amps)
  • 100 Feet Extension Cords
    • 16 Gauge (1-10 Amps)
    • 14 Gauge (11-13 Amps)
    • 12 Gauge (14-15 Amps)
    • 10 Gauge (16-20 Amps)
  • 150 Feet Extension Cords
    • 14 Gauge (1-7 Amps)
    • 12 Gauge (8-10 Amps)
    • 10 Gauge (11-15 Amps)

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Extension Cord Safety Tips

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