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Extension Cord Safety PDF Print E-mail

Household Extension Cords Can Cause Fires

  • Choose the right extension cord for the job, and use it as specified. Extension cords can overheat
  • and cause fires when used improperly. Overheating is usually caused by overloading or
  • connecting appliances that consume more watts than the cord can handle. Damaged extension
  • cords can also cause fires. Extension cords should only be used temporarily. Protect young
  • children by keeping them away from extension cords and unplugging the cords when not in use.

Overheating or Damage

  • Overheating can occur at the plug, at the socket, or over the entire length of the cord.
  • Hot plugs and sockets are often caused by deteriorated connections to the cord’s wires.
  • Look for visible signs of excessive wear or damage to the plug, sockets or insulation.
  • Replace damaged extension cords.

Prevent Overloading

  • If any part of the extension cord is hot while in use, it is a warning sign that it may be
  • overloaded. Check if the extension cord is properly rated for the products that are plugged
  • into it. Also, inspect the cord along its entire length to ensure it has not been damaged.
  • Do not overload your extension cord by using it to power appliances beyond its capacity.
  • You can check its capacity, or rating, by looking at the tag on the cord or its packaging.

Protect Extension Cords from Damage

  • Do not run extension cords under carpets, through doorways or under furniture.
  • Only use an extension cord outdoors if it is marked for outdoor use.
  • Never alter a cord to change its length or perform inadequate repairs such as taping up
  • damaged insulation. Do not trim, cut or alter the plug blades in any way.
  • Unplug an extension cord when it is not in use. The cord is energized when it is plugged in
  • and can overheat if shorted.

Discard Older Extension Cords

  • Discard cords that are old and/or are
  • missing important safety features,
  • including safety closures, polarized
  • blades and a large plug face that covers
  • the outlet’s slots and is easy to grasp to
  • unplug.
  • Extension cords should be at least 16 AWG, unless they are 18 AWG with fuse protection.
  • AWG refers to the size of the wires in the cord. The wire size is imprinted on the cord’s
  • surface.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission