Every year extension cords cause about 3,300 home fires, kill about 50 people and injure hundreds. Using an extension cord the proper way can protect your home from a disaster. Here are five reminders when dealing with extension cords:
1. You should always remember that extension cords are never meant for permanent use. Although it may seem like your extension cord is sturdy and can last forever, the average home extension cord is really only meant to last 90 days.
2. Do you need an indoor or outdoor extension cord; a light duty or a hard-service cord? If you are planning on using an extension cord outside then you should purchase an extension cord that best handles the outdoor elements. An outdoor-rated cord can be used indoors, but an indoor cord should never be used outside. Outdoor cords have tougher insulation and are more resistant than indoor cords, and should always have a built-in ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Hard-service cords are three-wire cords designed for hard or extra-hard usage, and they are marked with letters such as S, SE, SO, ST. Multiple appliances like toasters or hair dryers that have high energy demands should not be plugged in light duty cords at the same time.
3. Always inspect cords for damage before use. Avoid use if there are any exposed cords and deformed or missing blades. Stop using the cord If it feels warm or hot. This may indicate that it has overheated and there may be internal damage.
4. Only use an extension cord for its intended use. The extension cord should not be nailed or stapled to any structure, pass through walls or ceilings or be altered in any way. Never alter the blades of an extension cord to plug it into an outlet. If a plug does not fit, have an electrician install a new outlet.
5. Before you buy extension cords make sure a nationally recognized testing laboratory has certified them, and when in doubt always read the manufacturer’s instructions.