If your home lacks enough or conveniently located electrical outlets, extension cords offer a solution. But you’ll be wrong to assume that all extensions are equal. Every power cord is designed to suit a particular purpose, and when misused, it can turn dangerous.
Even once you have the right extension cord for your home, certain precautions come in handy to keep your family safe. If you plan to use them for an extended period, keep in mind that they deteriorate and become hazardous. That’s why you need to be cautious when handling them.
Wondering how to stay safe and avoid life-threatening electric shocks or devastating electrical fires? Here are five tips:
Avoid Overloading Your Extension Cords
Extension cords come with ratings that determine the amperage and wattage they can support. Always check the amperage rating labels to see if it suits the intended purpose before buying one.
Yellow or bright orange color doesn't mean the cord can support a high current supply. Finding the right amperage rating is the key to safe use. Typically, a 30 amp extension cord is ideal for a wide range of devices, including electric water heaters, air conditioners, coffee makers, microwaves, hairdryers, and more. But it might not support heavy power consumers like large electric heaters, cooktops, or electric furnaces.
Plugging in appliances that required current exceeding the allowable limit amounts to overloading. The plugin the socket will overheat and might cause a fire. Besides, overstressing the cord by forcing excessive demand for current can generate dangerous shocks.
Using the cord with more than one appliance adds the appliance's wattage to ascertain that it doesn't exceed the limit. At no time should the power required be more than the cord’s rating.
Pick the Correct Extension Cord for the Work
Extension cords generally come in two types; for indoor and outdoor or general purposes. So, it depends on how you plan to use the cord. If you’re not sure where you’ll be using it, then you're better off with a general use cord.
The environment matters because extension cords are designed differently. For example, cords with heavy-duty jacket materials are crucial for use in extreme temperatures. All outdoor cords are insulated for extra protection against abrasion, sunlight, and moisture.
How often you intend to use the cord and the kind of appliances to use also counts. Using the cord as intended will help you avoid accidents such as fire hazards.
Don't Force Plugs into the Wrong Receptacles
It would help if you thought twice when using a 3-prong plug on a 2-prong plug crosses your mind. While cutting the ground prong on the 3-prong plug might seem a comfortable and friendly solution, there are dangerous consequences.
The third prong is designed purposely on the plug for grounding protection. Getting rid of it can lead to shock, fires, or more serious accidents. Never remove the grounding from any plug or force it into the wrong outlet.
Don't Attach Multiple Extension Cords
Stringing two or three extension cords is not bad, provided that they don't draw more power than supported by the extension connected to the wall socket. However, this should only be the last resort and a short term solution like a power failure.
Apart from reducing wattage capabilities, extended cords can cause meltdowns due to temperature increase igniting a fire. Besides, it's unsafe because it increases the odds of trip hazards happening.
Never Use A Defective Extension Cord
Extension cords can get damaged, making them defective and unsafe for use. The damage can be due to it getting old, heavy use, or overloading. It can also be as easy as being crushed or pinched between furniture and walls or floors. Damaged power cords might expose the energized wires leading to shock and fire hazards.
The best solution is to avoid using a damaged cord and replacing it immediately. If you’re planning on repairing it, make sure it's done by a professional.
Inspecting the extension cord regularly will help you identify defects before they become dangerous. Always check the cables for any wear, cracks, or other faults on the handles and casing before using it.
Extension cords can make your life easier or harder, depending on how you use them. When used correctly, they are an ideal solution for extending power to suitable locations in your house.
However, there are many things to keep in mind to ensure that everything runs smoothly and minimize accidents. These five tips should help you keep your extension safe and protect your family members from electrical hazards.
If you’re planning on buying one, ensure it's from a reliable manufacturer. Observing electrical safety practices increases the device’s durability and allows you to enjoy its benefits.