Proper Extension Cord Usage and Safety

We’ve all got extension cords put away somewhere in our home. Here are five simple rules you should be thinking about to make sure you’re using them in a safe manner.

1. Extension cords are for temporary use only

Extension cords are only intended to be used on a temporary basis. They are not supposed to be a replacement for a permanent power outlet.

  1. Check the cord’s rating

Extension cords have ratings for either indoor or outdoor use. Never use an extension cord that’s rated for indoor use only in an outdoor setting, no matter how short the duration. It could result in a major safety hazard.

There is also a maximum power load that the extension cord is capable of handling. Standard extension cords are fine for lights and other regular applications. Most newer decorative lights use LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. LEDs use dramatically less energy, so they are less likely to overload the extension cord. If you’re using an extension cord for heavy duty items like large appliances or multiple high-power items, make sure that the cord has an appropriate rating.

3. Inspect the cord for damage

Extension cords are often put away for storage most of the year. (We see extension cord usage go up dramatically around the holiday season.) Once they’re brought out of storage, it’s really important that you take the time to inspect the cord visually to make sure there’s no damage. There should be no cracks, bare wires, or loose connections. If anything looks out of the ordinary, the cord should not be used. Of course, the extension cord should be checked thoroughly before it is plugged into a power outlet

4. Monitor the extension cord during use

If the extension cord begins to feel hot during usage, you should unplug it immediately. It should also be monitored occasionally to make sure that everything is working properly.

5. Prevent tripping hazards

Every year, there are around 4,000 injuries associated with extension cords. About half of those injuries are from fractures, lacerations, contusions, and sprains due to people tripping over the cord. In areas where people are walking by, you want to make sure that the cord is not a tripping hazard.

If you need electrical work done in your home or if you have any questions about electrical safety, contact us online or give us a call today. We’re committed to providing you with complete electrical service.