Expert Electrical

Extension Cord Safety Tips

Jan 21, 2022 | Electrical Safety

While extension cords are commonly used in various settings to power many different devices, they are often used carelessly and are one of North America’s leading causes of electrical fires. To minimize the risks associated with extension cords, it is important to understand how to use them safely. As leading providers of complete residential electrical services, the team at Expert Electric knows how dangerous extension cords can be when misused. We have compiled a list of extension cord safety tips to help you experience the benefits of extension cords while minimizing the risk of injury or electrical hazards.

Learn about five typical home electrical problems and how to address them.

5 Tips for Safe Extension Cord Use in Your Home

To ensure that every member of your household stays safe when using extension cords, consider the following tips:

1. Do not use Extension Cords Near Water or Heat Sources

Exposure to excessive heat or moisture harms the integrity and functionality of indoor extension cords, rendering them unsuitable for environments like kitchens and bathrooms, where such conditions are prevalent. The risks associated with using extension cords in these settings include damage to the cord itself and heightened dangers of electrical failures and potential fire hazards. If using an extension cord in such areas is unavoidable, ensuring it is in pristine condition, without any signs of wear, fraying, or damage, is imperative. Furthermore, connecting the extension cord solely to a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is crucial.

GFCI outlets are designed to offer an added layer of protection by automatically shutting off power if any imbalance in electrical current is detected, thereby significantly reducing the risk of electric shock and fire. This precautionary measure is essential to maintaining a safe environment when extension cords are used in areas susceptible to heat and moisture.

2. Do not Pull on the Cord When Removing it from an Outlet

Ensuring an extension cord is securely connected to an outlet is crucial for safety and functionality. When inserting the plug, ensure it’s fully engaged with the outlet to prevent any partial connections leading to arcing or overheating. A secure connection ensures that electricity flows as intended, reducing the risk of potential hazards.

Upon completing the use of an extension cord, the disconnection method is equally important. It’s imperative to grasp the plug—never the cord—to remove it from the socket. Yanking the cord could damage the wiring inside, leading to potential electrical risks, and harm the prongs or the outlet itself. Such damage might compromise the outlet’s safety and increase the risk of electrical issues in the future.

This careful handling is essential to maintain the integrity of both the extension cord and the electrical system it’s connected to. By following these simple yet effective practices, you can ensure the longevity of your extension cord and the safety of your electrical setup, avoiding unnecessary risks and potential damages.

Extension Cord Safety Tips

3. Ensure that Your Cord is Rated for the Electricity Required

Understanding the ratings of extension cords is crucial for ensuring electrical safety in any setting. These ratings are not just numbers; they’re guidelines that help prevent the risk of overloading the cord, which can lead to overheating and potentially cause a fire. Each extension cord is designed to handle a specific amount of electricity, measured in amperage or wattage, and using a cord for a device that exceeds its capacity can be extremely dangerous.

When selecting an extension cord, you must match the cord’s rating with the electrical demands of the devices you intend to power. This precaution is essential to maintain a safe environment and protect your devices from damage. Ignoring these ratings and subjecting cords to excessive electrical draw can compromise the integrity of the cord’s insulation and conductors, leading to hazardous situations such as electrical shocks or fires.

In summary, always ensure that the extension cord’s amperage or wattage rating meets or exceeds the total draw of the connected devices. This simple yet critical step can significantly reduce the risk of electrical hazards, safeguarding your property and its people.

4. Use Three-Prong Cords and Never Remove the Ground Pin

Three-prong extension cords are the gold standard for safely powering your devices, as they provide a necessary grounding mechanism crucial for preventing electrical accidents. The grounding feature of these cords adds an essential layer of safety by directing any fault current away from the user, significantly reducing the risk of electric shock. It’s imperative to understand that tampering with the cord, such as removing the ground pin to accommodate an older two-prong outlet, compromises this safety feature and puts you at a higher risk of encountering dangerous electrical malfunctions.

Such alterations can lead to severe consequences, including an increased likelihood of electrical fires, device damage, and potential harm to individuals. Always ensure your extension cord is fully compatible with your outlet without any modifications to maintain a safe and secure environment, thereby upholding the protective measures designed to guard against electrical hazards.

5. Never Plug an Extension Cord into Another Extension Cord

The practice of plugging one extension cord into another, commonly referred to as “daisy-chaining,” might seem like a convenient solution to extend reach. Still, it’s fraught with risks that can lead to severe consequences. This method can lead to overheating and overloading the extension cords, creating a significant fire hazard in your home or workplace. The excess electrical load can exceed the cords’ designed capacity, compromising their integrity and functionality and setting the stage for potential electrical shocks or fires. This danger is not just theoretical; numerous instances of property damage and personal injury have been attributed to this unsafe practice.

It is crucial to respect the limitations of extension cords and prioritize safety over convenience. Suppose you regularly need more length, it’s a sign to consider alternative, safer solutions like installing new outlets closer to where you need power or using a single, longer cord specifically rated for your needs.

To learn more about extension cord safety or to inquire about our electrical services, get in touch with the team at Expert Electric. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions regarding our services.