The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) urges consumers to exercise caution when using extension cords, and warns that improper use can pose serious shock and fire hazards this holiday season.
Extension cords can be a handy temporary way to place electrical appliances wherever they are needed; however, they can be extremely dangerous if misused.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 4,700 residential fires originate from extension cords each year, killing and injuring more than 300 people.
ESFI recommends taking the following precautions to ensure the safe use of extension cords this season:
Extension cords are meant to provide a temporary solution and should not be used as a long-term or permanent electrical circuit.
Examine extension cords before each use. Cracked, frayed, or otherwise damaged cords should be replaced immediately.
Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can result in an electric shock or burn.
To avoid overheating extension cords, make sure that they do not run under furniture or carpeting or behind baseboards.
When working outdoors, use only weather-resistant, heavy gauge extension cords marked for outdoor use. These cords have added safeguards designed to withstand the outdoor environment.
Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strands clear of snow and standing water and well-protected from the elements.
When selecting extension cords, ESFI recommends using the following helpful tips:
Purchase cords from authorized retailers that have been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
When buying an extension cord for use outdoors, make sure that it is marked for outdoor use.
Select a cord that is long enough to meet your needs. Never attempt to extend the length of an extension cord by connecting it with another extension cord.