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Technological advancement has led to the innovation of several electrical appliances and devices that ease our lives. However, having an electrical outlet within reach for all the electrical appliances is not possible. When traditional electrical outlets are out of reach, extension cords are an efficient way to plug in electrical devices. The dependence on extension cords is usually more when the number of electrical appliances plugged in increases.
Offices and workplaces are some of the places where the requirement of multiple devices is a must. Therefore the use of an extension cord is also usual in offices. While extension cords simplify the process of reaching an electrical outlet, they may also cause several hazards if neglected. Several factors cause extension cord fire hazards such as overload of power, overheating, moisture and wetness, etc. So here is the list of five safety tips to follow while using extension cords.
- Buy the Right Type of Cord
The first and foremost thing to ensure safety while using extension cords is to buy the appropriate one in the first place. Whether you buy a flat extension cord or a traditional round one, always make sure that it is tested and certified by any independent testing agency. It’s crucial to choose an extension cord that can handle the electrical appliances’ load plugged in to ensure safety. Make sure that the extension cord can withstand the power of at least 15 amps. The length of the extension cord also matters when it comes to capacity. For instance, cables with longer lengths have lower capacity compared to shorter ones. You can use a flat extension cord for smaller and less power consuming appliances. However, a thick and round extension cord is suitable for plugging any heavy-duty electrical appliances.
- Unplug When Not in Use
Here’s another simple yet useful safety tip to follow when using an extension cord. Leaving the electrical appliances plugged into the extension cord may lead to fire hazards due to overload. Always ensure that you unplug the extension cord when not in use and store it in a safe place. Such situations may prevail mainly in offices as no one stays to monitor the electrical appliances and cords after working hours.
Any fluctuations in the power supply may also cause the extension cord to malfunction leading to a fire hazard. Therefore, advise your colleagues or the concerned person to unplug the extension cords after usage regularly. It’s better to follow the same practice at home as well, to ensure maximum safety.
- Avoid Daisy Chain Setup
Extension cords and power strips are an alternative to traditional power outlets, and one should use them as the same. Most people connect multiple power strips to reach an electrical outlet, usually known as a daisy-chain setup. Doing so may seem convenient but imposes a severe threat. Power strips and extension cord can handle low capacity power only. Connecting multiple cords or power strips will cause an overload, resulting in overheating, and may ultimately start a fire. In case the length of the extension cord or power strip falls short, replace it with a longer one, and disconnect any existing daisy-chain setup right away.
- Do Not Wrap or Cover Extension Cords
Some people either wrap or cover the extension cords set on the floor with duct covers or using rugs and mats. Doing so may cause severe fire hazard because electrical cords need to have an outlet to let out heat generated due to usage. When you cover or wrap the cables, the heat does not escape; and may cause a fire. Always make sure there is free air passage around the extension cords to release the heat. So if you have extension cords on the floor covered with floor mats or carpets, try and get rid of such blockages.
- Replace Damaged or Hot Extension Cords
Replacing the extension cords even at the slightest damage is a safe move. Some people may ignore the minute damages and continue using such extension cords. Doing so may also lead to a fire hazard. For instance, any damage to the outer layer of the cord will expose the inner copper wires. That may cause further damage to the inner layers and result in electric shock or fire hazard. You should also avoid bending or twisting the extension cords when plugged in. Running an extension cord across hallways or doors may damage them as the chances of bending are high. Using extension cords in a moist or wet environment is also damages the cord and is hazardous. In case you need an extension cord outdoors, you can use moisture-resistant extension cords for such purposes.
One should be cautious while using extension cords. According to the ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International), extension cords are responsible for causing at least three thousand three hundred home fires every year. Extension cords must always be a temporary solution. If you are using an extension to plug an electrical appliance for more than a month, then you should consider getting a standard electrical outlet for such devices. However, you can evade any fire and shock hazards while using extension cords by following the safety tips mentioned above.