Extension Cord Safety
An extension cord may be called a power extender, drop cord, or extension lead. It is a flexible length of power cable with an electrical plug on one end, and one or more sockets on the other end. If the plug and sockets are of different types, it may be called an adapter cord. Extension cords come in varying lengths from 2 feet to 30 feet or longer. Extension cords are very handy, but to be safe in using them, a number of rules should be followed.
Selecting Extension Cords
- Any cord that you purchase should have been approved by an independent testing agency to ensure the cord’s quality.
- Use only extension cords that have been marked for outdoor use for your outdoor projects.
- Read the cord instructions for the correct use of the cord and the amount of power that it can handle.
- For use, select cords that are rated to handle the wattage of the device being powered. Extension cords vary not only in length but in gauge, which is a measurement of the cord’s electrical capability. The lower the gauge, the more wattage that can be handled. The length of the cord adversely affects the cord’s ability to handle wattage.
- Use cords with 3-prong plugs. The third prong is a ground.
- Low-gauge cords should be used in powering your higher wattage devices. High-gauge cords can be used with lower wattage devices.
Using Extension Cords
- Never remove the third prong from the plug. This is your safety ground.
- Try to limit yourself to using one cord per appliance or device.
- Outdoors, use only cords designed to be used outdoors, and don’t plug several cords together.
- Don’t run extension cords under furniture or rugs, tape the cord to the floor, or attach it with staples or nails.
- Don’t coil cords when you are using them. Place child-proof covers over unused receptacles.
- When using an extension cord, check it for heat. Do not continue to use an extension cord that runs hot. You need a thicker gauge cord.
Extension Cord Safety
- When using an extension cord, see that it is left uncovered. This lets heat escape and prevents fire. Check the cord for heat to see that it can safely carry the existing load.
- Be sure that the extension cords you are using can be easily seen and are not in a high-traffic area. You don’t want people to be tripping over extension cords.
- When you are using extension cords be careful to prevent electrical shock. Keep the cords out of water and snow, and be sure to use cords designed to be used out-of-doors when working outside.
Extension cords are one of the handiest tools a workman has, and are also useful around the house. We need to keep in mind that extension cords are meant to be a temporary source of electrical power rather than a permanent source. If we find ourselves running things in the house or business with extension cords, we need to consider rewiring part of the building to accommodate our increased need for permanent electricity.