Extension Cord Safety; What Should You Avoid
Extension Cords are very popular today, and many are used in several corporations, offices, shops, homes, etc. They deliver electricity to unreachable areas, keep the workspace tidy, allow multiple devices, and save money. Despite the numerous advantages of these cords, the question on the lips of many would-be users borders on the safety of the equipment.
Are Extension Cords Safe?
With studies showing that roughly 3,300 home fires originate from extension cords yearly, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 more, it is only proper to look into the concept of extension cord safety. Whether you want to procure the indoor or outdoor extension cord, ensure you get quality products. These electrical cords will make life easier when appropriately used, but if misused, they can overheat and cause short fires.
Regardless of the gauge or rating of the cord, an extension cord is only a temporary electrical solution and should be treated as such. Do not mistake using an extension as a long-term household electrical system.
With continual use, the cord would deteriorate in quality and cause a shock hazard if left unchecked. The presence of too many extension cords is a direct indication that your home lacks legal power outlets. Install more outlets and reduce your dependence on extension cords. However, if that is not an option, consider imbibing some safety principles to avoid issues with electricity.
Does one size fit all?
This is another factor that most people neglect when purchasing extension cords. Manufacturers usually produce the cords in different lengths and gauge capacity. So there is no one size fits all with extension cords. The thickness or diameter of a wire determines how much current the wire can carry and also how much the wire heats up. The length of the cord affects voltage drop-through resistance in the cord wires.
This means the longer the cord, the more significant the voltage drop. Thus, long extension cords possess a lower capacity than shorter cords. There are also light, medium, and heavy-duty extension cords. Some heavy-duty home appliances like pressing irons and toasters cannot be plugged into the light-duty cord. Otherwise, the cord would get burnt, which might trigger an electric fire.
Extension cord safety: What to do and what to avoid
Here are some key things to avoid when dealing with extension cords.
Avoid buying the wrong type of cord.
Get the heavy-duty cords if you want a cord for your space heaters. If you wish to use the cord outdoors, procure one specifically built for this and vice versa. Every appliance has its power rating; ensure the cord you buy is capable of the job you have in mind.
Shun the habit of using a cord before reading the instructions.
You might have used several cords in the past, making you feel they all work similarly. The cords might have a similar build, but you must remember that each manufacturer is different. Endeavor to go through the user instructions before using any cord. You might be saving yourself from trouble by doing so.
Disconnect your extension if it feels hot to touch.
We might all have ignored this signal on different occasions, but it is a serious problem if your extension box becomes hot. This could mean that a fire has been ignited within the box. It could also mean that the box or cord is melting. Dispose of such cord, and never use it again for safety reasons.
Do not run extension cords under floor coverings or other furniture.
In many homes, it is often the practice to conceal electrical cords underneath the furniture to prevent trips or falls. However, this well-meaning gesture can become problematic if the cable begins to burn. The fire can spread more rapidly and become too difficult to control.
Also, when cords are tucked underneath dense pieces of furniture, they can overheat more quickly and get burnt faster.
Never tape extension cords to the floor or hinge them to surfaces using nails.
We often succumb to firmly attaching extension cords to surfaces, which can cause greater havoc than we know. If there is a breach in the flow of electricity, the floor or any other metal surfaces around this breach could conduct the electricity making it more challenging to resolve the problem.
Cover used cord receptacles with insulators and child-proof coverings.
If you have a damaged extension cord that exposes its power terminals, use a rubber, wooden, or glass material to cover the exposed portions. This is not 100% safe, but it would protect members of the family from electrocution, especially if you have overcurious kids.
Avoid using a cord if it doesn’t fit.
Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that contain only two slots for the plug. Do not cut off the ground pin to force a fit. This contradicts the function of a three-prong plug and might predispose you to an electrical shock. If you find out that a plug doesn’t fit your extension cord, do not compel it to fit.
Extension Cords are a delicate group of equipment, and great care should be taken when handling them. Employ these guidelines when dealing with cords henceforth.