In the average home, there are simply too many electrical devices and too few outlets to plug them all. Thus, many homeowners are using extension cords to power up their electrical devices. Yet, electrical cords can become fire hazards when used improperly. Here are essential dos and don’ts of using electrical extension cords:
Purchase only cords that are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Plug major appliances, such as refrigerators, dryers, and washers, directly into a wall receptacle outlet.
Check the maximum capacity of the extension cord and appliance or tool that’s being used, and make sure to not exceed it.
Fully insert the plug of an extension cord (or any plug) into an outlet.
Unplug extension cords when they’re not being used. To safely unplug an extension cord, pull on the plug, NOT on the cord.
Use extension cords only temporarily. Extension cords should not be substituted for permanent wiring.
Keep cords out of the path of foot traffic to prevent tripping. Cords should not be left dangling anywhere where they can be pulled down and tripped over.
Have a qualified electrician install additional outlets to avoid using excess extension cords.
Inspect extension cords before using them. If a cord heats up or is damaged in any way, it should be discarded.
Use extension cords with polarized and/or three-prong plugs.
Don’t overload extension cords with too many appliances. The cord can overheat and cause a fire. Only one major appliance should be plugged into an extension cord.
Don’t run extension cords through water or snow to avoid the risk of electric shock.
Don’t run cords through ceilings, walls, doorways, or floors. Cords should never be placed under carpets, either. Covered cords allow little heat to escape and pose a fire hazard.
Don’t chain multiple extension cords. Extension cords should be plugged directly into mounted electrical receptacles.
Don’t use indoor extension cords outdoors. Instead, use extension cords marked for outdoor use
Don’t force a three-prong plug into two-prong outlets, or remove or bend the ground pin to force a fit.
Don’t use staples or nails to attach cords to a surface like a wall to prevent puncturing the cord’s insulation.
Don’t cram cords together to prevent damaging the cord’s insulation when using cord-bundling devices, such as spiral wire wrap.
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