Safety Tips For Homeowners Using Extension Cords

Although you can find extension cords used in most every home, few people truly understand the safety risk that they can pose. This lack of safety knowledge leads to mistakes that can be devastating. Whether you've had power cable extension cords in the house for years or you've just purchased your first one, it's important that you know how to use them safely. Here are a few things that you need to know.

Don't Run Extension Cords Under Rugs

You might think that covering an extension cord with a throw rug is a good way to eliminate the trip risk. While this may be true, it actually introduces another potential hazard. The friction that is created between the carpet and the cord can actually cause the outer shield of the cord to fray. This leads to the risk of damaged, frayed wires inside the extension cord, and when the current arcs between the damaged wires, it can cause a fire.

Give Extension Cords Room to Breathe

Remember that any kind of electrical current is going to produce some level of heat. This is true for extension cords, too. When you run an extension cord anywhere, make sure that it has air circulation around it. Don't coil it up when it's in use, either. Even if you think that's a good way to keep it from being obstructive, coiling it will concentrate the heat. That can lead to a fire.

Minimize the Power Draw

Overloading extension cords can be damaging to your home's electrical circuits. Only plug in one major appliance per cord, or make sure the cord you use is rated for the power draw that you're using with all of the things that are plugged in. Further, don't piggyback extension cords. When you plug multiple extension cords into each other, you risk creating a current overload. If you can't reach what you need with the cord you have, buy a longer one instead of using two.

Use the Right Cord for the Application

When you're shopping for extension cords, you will likely notice that some cords are rated as indoor while others are outdoor. Don't use an indoor extension cord outside because they don't have the necessary insulation to protect the wires from weather damage. If you need an extension cord outside, buy one that's specifically designed for outdoor use.

These are a few of the key considerations for protecting your home and family when you're using extension cords. For more advice, talk with your local electrician.