Safety Tip of the Week

Extension Cord Safety

An extension cord can be a convenient, temporary way to use electrical equipment when you need it. But if used improperly, extension cords can cause ­an injury.

Using extension cords safely

Use extension cords only if needed and only for temporary use. Make sure the extension cords wattage rating is at least as high as the tool or appliance plugged into it. If furniture may be pushed against an extension cord where the cord joins the plug, use a special “angle extension cord.” Be aware that cords can cause tripping hazards. Don’t run them across walkways, doors or over areas where people walk or equipment is rolled. When using outdoor tools and appliances, use only extension cords labeled for outdoor use. Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs are exposed when the extension cord is in use. When disconnecting cords, pull the plug rather than the cord itself to protect the cord from damage and yourself from shock. Request a replacement of any cracked or worn extension cords.

Don’t be shocked – prevent electrocution

Use only three-wire (grounded) extension cords for appliances with three-prong plugs. Never remove the third (round or U-shaped) prong, which is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk of shock and electrocution. Electricity and water don’t mix: if using an extension cord in a kitchen, bathroom, outdoors or in a potentially damp location, plug it only into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.

Be fire safe

Never run an extension cord under a rug or carpet – heat buildup and friction could cause a fi­re. Exposed wires also can cause fires, check your extension cords frequently for signs of wear, and discard any that have breaks, tears or fraying. If a cord feels hot or there is a softening of the plastic, it could mean the cord is overloaded or that wires are failing. Discard the cord and replace it.

Keep extension cords in prime condition by storing cords properly. This will keep them from damaging or breaking – do not bend sharply or twist. Never place extension cords where it is likely to be damaged by moving furniture or foot traf­fic. Never run cords through doorways where they could get pinched by a closing door. Never use an extension cord while it is coiled or looped. Never cover any part of an extension cord with newspapers, clothing or other objects while the cord is in use. Don’t use staples or nails to attach extension cords to a surface.