10 Safety Tips for Using an Extension Cord

A long extension cord

Extension cords are a common find in most households. They provide a convenient way to tap into the electrical system when you are away from an outlet.

While they are helpful, they should be used with caution. There are some jobs that an extension cord should not do while others may require a specialised type of cord. Connect Electric wants to share 10 tips that will keep you safe when using extension cords.

  • Use Laboratory-Approved Extension Cords Only

You should only use cords that have been tested by an independent laboratory. These will be marked as approved and safe for use. A few options to look for include Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or Intertek (ETL).

  • Always Replace Damaged Extension Cords

If you notice visible damage or a change in performance, it’s time to replace your extension cord. Some people wrap electrical tape around damaged areas. This may work for a while, but it can create a dangerous situation. It’s best to replace the cord completely and avoid the hazard.

  • Know the Type of Cord You Need for the Job

Not all extension cords are manufactured the same way. Some have added features that make them ideal for different applications. For example, outdoor cords have thicker insulation and will be marked a safe for outdoor use. The cord should include instructions that explain its intended use and wattage rating.

  • Do Not Run Extension Cords Under Rugs or Furniture

Do not hide extension cords under rugs or furniture. They can become damaged or create a fire hazard. An unseen cord can also become an obstacle that causes people to trip and fall.

  • Extension Cords Are for Temporary Use Only

Extension cords are meant for temporary use only. They should never be incorporated into a permanent installation or repair. They are not designed for constant, long-term use. If you have questions about a project, speak to an electrician.

  • Use One Appliance or Tool Per Cord

Only one appliance or tool should be plugged into each cord. Daisy chaining, or plugging multiple cords in together, can cause a fire hazard as can using a power strip plugged into an extension cord.

  • Never Tape Extension Cords to the Floor

Extension cords should not be taped to the floor or walls. You should also not secure them with staples or nails. Doing so could damage the exterior and create a fire or shock hazard.

  • Install Childproof Covers on Unused Receptacles

Any unused receptacles should be protected by childproof covers. This will prevent children from shocking themselves and can keep the receptacle free of dust and debris.

  • Stop Use if Extension Cord Feels Hot

If you notice that your extension cord is hot to the touch, stop using it immediately. You could be overloading it, which can lead to a fire. Make sure the appliance it is plugged into doesn’t use more watts than the cord is rated to provide.

  • Keep Extension Cords Out of the Way

Extension cords are tripping hazards when left in a walkway, hallway, or on stairs. Keep them off to the side and out of the way of high traffic areas.

Applying these safety measures can protect you and those in your workspace from the dangers of extension cord misuse. If you have questions or need assistance with a project, you should contact an electrician at Connect Electric.