It’s all too easy to take advantage of our extension cords and load up every available socket with a plug. Especially this time of year when you have extra things in your home that need a power source like electric heaters and holiday lights.
However, experts say this can be very dangerous if you’re unaware of how to properly use your extension cord.
Power strips and/or extension cords are long electrical cords that have multiple plugs. Even though these cords might have a bunch of extra sockets, it doesn’t mean that your cord can safely supply power to all of those outlets.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) says that extension cords should only be a temporary solution and are not meant to be used long-term.
This is because your cord can rapidly deteriorate over time and can cause a dangerous electric shock or even a fire hazard.
Overheating can occur at the plug, at the socket, or over the entire length of the cord. Hot plugs and sockets are often caused by deteriorated connections to the cord’s wires.
Look for visible signs of excessive wear or damage to the plug, sockets or insulation. Replace damaged extension cords.
If any part of the extension cord is hot while in use, it is a warning sign that it may be overloaded. Check if the extension cord is properly rated for the products that are plugged into it. Also, inspect the cord along its entire length to ensure it has not been damaged.
Do not overload your extension cord by using it to power appliances beyond its capacity. You can check its capacity, or rating, by looking at the tag on the cord or its packaging.
Here are some other important tips that the ESFI wants you to know about power strips and extension cords:
Never overload your cords.
Never cover your cord. This will prevent heat from escaping and can cause a fire.
Never run your cords through water or snow.
Never run these cord through walls, doorways, ceilings, or cords.
Check to see if your cord is for indoor or outdoor use.
Make sure what you’re plugging in has a wattage rating that is compatible with the cord’s wattage rating. Never use a cord with a lower wattage rating.
If your cord feels hot or damaged unplug it and don’t touch it. You can easily be burned or shocked.
Never force a plug into an outlet that doesn’t fit
Only use extension cords with polarized or three-prong plugs
Only use extension cords that are approved by an independent testing lab. These include Underwriters Laboratories (UL), ETL-SEMKO (ETL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
Keep your family safe by abiding by these safety tips. These mistakes are easily avoidable and can be the difference between life and death.
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