Extension Cord Safety | Guide to Safe Extension Cord Use
October 27, 2017
Extension Cord Safety Statistics
According to Electrical Safety Foundation International:
- Roughly 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 more.
- Each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Half of these injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords.
Extension Cord Safety Guide
Go over these extension cord safety tips to keep your home and family safe during the holidays and year-round:
- Schedule a professional electrical safety inspection every year. In order to keep your electrical system safe from shocks, electrical arcing, and home fires, it’s important to schedule an electrical safety inspection every year from a qualified electrician.
- Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their use (indoors or outdoors). Check the packaging/label on your extension cords to make sure they are rated for outdoor use (if using outdoors) and indoor use (if using indoors). Generally, outdoor extension cords are thicker and weatherproofed.
- Be careful not to overload your extension cords. Scroll down to learn how to choose the right extension cord for your power requirements. If you re plugging multiple devices into your extension cord, be sure to add them up to determine the total electrical load.
- Never run extension through windows, under rugs, around furniture, or across doorways and other traffic areas. Never put extension cords or any electrical wires in a position where they can be pinched or punctured. Run cords against the wall to prevent tripping hazards.
- Do NOT use an extension cord if it is hot to the touch. If the plug or wire is hot, discontinue use.
- Some appliances should never be connected to an extension cord. Do NOT use an extension cord with the following items: ice makers, refrigerators, microwaves, space heater, hair dryer, garbage disposals, air conditioners, toasters/toaster ovens, washers/dryers, and coffee/tea makers.
- Clean gutters before hanging string lights. Dry leaves and hot lights and cords can create a fire hazard. Additionally, clearing your gutters is a good idea to prevent water damage and improve water runoff. You should clean your gutters at least twice a year.
- Check for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label for safe extension cords and electrical devices. Whenever you purchase an extension cord or any type of electrical product, make sure you look for certification from an independent testing laboratory, such as UL.
- Look for cord damage. Before using any extension cords, lights, or other electrical devices, check for exposed wiring, cracked sockets, and other signs of damage. Replace or repair any damaged cords and light sets you find. Click here to learn where you can recycle electrical products.
- Never hang lights or cords on a metal tree.
- Never use extension cords on a permanent basis. Extension cords should never act as a permanent wiring solution. If you need more outlets in your home, contact a professional electrician to install them for you.
How to Choose the Right Extension Cord
Your extension cord should exceed the power requirements of the device or appliance being used. Check the gauge load (American Wire Gauge/AWG) of the extension cord and then add up the current requirements of each device that is plugged into the extension cords. The lower the gauge rating, the higher its capacity.
Here is the formula for converting amps into watts and vice versa: Amps = Watts/110.
- 1-13 Amps (16 Gauge)
- 14-15 Amps (14 Gauge)
- 16-20 Amps (12 or 10 Gauge)
- 1-10 Amps (16 Gauge)
- 11-13 Amps (14 Gauge)
- 14-15 Amps (12 Gauge)
- 16-20 Amps (10 Gauge)
- 1-7 Amps (14 Gauge)
- 8-10 Amps (12 Gauge)
- 11-15 Amps (10 Gauge)
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Contact OnTime Service for help installing additional outlets, outdoor lighting, and electrical safety inspections.