The Electrifying Truth About Extension Cords

We all have ‘em. We all use ‘em…particularly during the holiday season. In fact, over 70% of Americans will use at least one extension cord when decorating their homes this year. Some will use many more than that. If not careful, your home could potentially become a deadly web of tangled electrical cords and a serious fire hazard.
Each year, approximately 3,300 home fires are caused by the improper use of extension cords leading to roughly 50 deaths, 270 injuries and extensive property damage. Fire is not the only concern. Over 4,000 people each year are treated in emergency rooms for fractures, lacerations and electrical burns from unsafe extension cord use. As you will see, there is much to learn about the safe handling and usage of extension cords.
Check Before You Connect
Before choosing an extension cord, you must ensure that it is safe and suitable for the task at hand. First, determine whether the cord has been certified by a reputable testing laboratory, such as UL, CSA or ETL. Be certain to read the manufacturer’s instructions and verify it has capacity to handle the electric current for the device it is connected to. For example, heavy-duty extension cords must be used when powering air conditioners, freezers and other high-wattage appliances. Never use extension cords outside if they are rated for inside use only.
Here are some general pointers for safely using extension cords during the holidays and well beyond the New Year.
Extension Cord Safety Tips
? Inspect extension cords every time you use them for any signs of damage, including any cuts, cracks, frays or exposed wires.
? Never try to repair damaged extension cords. Discard immediately!
? Keep extension cords clear of all walkways, doorways and other high-traffic areas.
? Never staple or nail electrical cords to walls or baseboards.
? Never run extension cords through walls or ceilings, nor under doors, windows or furniture.
? Do not dangle extension cords from tabletops or counters.
? Check electrical cords regularly when being used to ensure they do not feel hot.
? Do not connect multiple extension cords together.
? Make sure the extension cord is not coiled or looped when in use.
? Never alter the prongs of a plug to fit into an outlet.
? Always disconnect cords from outlets by pulling on the plug, not the cord itself.
? Instruct children to stay away from extension cords, plugs and outlets.
Remember to use extension cords on a short-term basis only and never as a permanent solution for your electrical needs.

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