One of the best electrical inventions, extension cords, is a staple in workplace settings and homes. They offer an easy fix for rooms without enough power outlets. They are also saviors for those who do not have a power outlet close to their seating area. It is one of the most useful and everyday items used by people in daily lives. And without which, people would find it challenging to go about their day.
However, extension cords are the biggest offenders when it comes to electrical fires. Accidents due to extension cords occur mostly because most people do not follow safety instructions when using this appliance, which leads to dangerous situations.
Improper use of any appliance leads to damaging consequences. However, it can be fatal in the case of extension cords. Hence, users must follow safety instructions when using extension cords.
Safety Tips: Here is what to keep in mind
Extension cords are used almost daily by some. But things might go wrong with them easily. Extension cords are long. In fact, there are 100 ft extension cords as well. Which means that they can get tangled easily or get in the way.
Thus, when using this appliance, one should ensure that it is in clear view, and out of the way for everyone. Here are some other tips that should be followed when using an extension cord:
Do inspect it before you use it:
With brand new cords, you never know under what conditions the item is shipped. Some parts of it may have broken or come loose in transit. In case your cord has been lying around for a few months or years, some insects may have chewed on the wire, or it may have been stored improperly. Before you use your 100 ft extension cord, scrutinize it. Do not use it if you find that some part is broken, the wires are exposed, or it displays any signs of melting.
Do check if your cord is meant for outdoor use:
Most people are not aware that not all cords are meant for outdoor use. The ones that are meant for outdoor use are more heavy-duty and have proper insulation, while the ones meant for indoor use are not as insulated. When looking for extension cords, check the cord or the packaging for the letters S or W. S signifies that the cord can be used indoors, while W signifies that the cord has proper insulation for outdoor use.
Do purchase three-prong extension cords:
You will find that extension cords come with either two or three prongs. One prong signifies “hot”; the other is for “neutral,” and the third prong is for “grounding,” that is, it helps the power travel to the ground wire. Hence, in the case of power surges, this third prong is crucial in preventing accidental fires. Ensure that your home has a three-point outlet, and if not, you may want to consider replacing your outlets.
Do ensure independent lab testing:
When you are purchasing an extension cord, ensure that it has been tested by independent laboratories and has been deemed safe for use. Doing so ensures that your cord has been thoroughly checked for safety issues, by multiple sources.
Unplug and Store:
Extensions cords are meant to be used temporarily. Hence, when they are not in use, they should be unplugged and store them securely. It is best to keep extension cords indoors away from sharp objects.
Common mistakes that people make when using extension cords and why you should avoid them:
1. Don’t Use them As Permanent Solution: Extension cords are an easy fix to solve temporary problems. But if they are used continuously, it can increase the risks of an accident.
Hence, in case extension cords are needed daily, it is best to call an electrician and get more outlets installed in the room.
2. Don’t Plug Extension Cords to One another: Every cord has a maximum capacity, and plugging one cord into another may cause serious issues. Always ensure that you have bought an extension cord of the right length and capacity and plug it directly into a wall outlet.
3. Don’t Overload the cord: Always check the capacity of the cord, overloading it may cause power surges, or even damage the cord itself, which means that you will not be able to use it anymore.
4. Don’t Plug Sensitive Appliances into an extension cord: Extension cords do not double as surge protectors. Hence, they should not be used with sensitive appliances, which can be damaged by minor surges.
5. Don’t Attach them to Surfaces: Whether using tape or a nail, it is always bad to attach your extension cord to any surface. So, ensure that they are safely out of the way and visible to everyone.
These safety tips can help prevent electrical fires and accidents which are common to a household. When using an extension cord, it is best to exercise caution. One small misstep can cause great tragedies. Hence, it should be ensured that the cord is safe and sturdy, but that it is also used correctly.