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Consumer Safety Alert: Overloaded Extension Cords

Universal Home Experts recently shared an important home safety message, Overloaded. Here’s more information from the Electrical Safety Foundation International about the importance of properly using your extension cords. Take a moment to read and then share these important ESFI safety tips with your loved ones.

Safety Tips:

These important safety principles can help keep your home and office safe from electrical hazards:

  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis; unplug and safely store them after every use.
  • Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can give you an electric shock or burn.
  • Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or tool being used.
  • Do not run extension cords through walls or ceilings. This may cause the cord to overheat, creating a serious fire hazard.
  • Keep extension cords out of high traffic areas like doorways or walkways where they pose a tripping hazard.
  • Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs is exposed when the extension cord is in use.
  • Do not nail or staple electrical cords to walls or baseboards.

If an extension cord is needed for a longer period of time, temporary power taps can be used when insufficient electrical receptacles are available. These devices may have 3 to 6 electrical receptacles, a circuit breaker, a 6-ft. to 15-ft. cord and a surge protector, and should bear the mark of a certified testing organization.

Ensure that all extension cords are certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL, CSA, or ETL, and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Facts and Statistics:

Extension cords are a leading cause of electrical fires, and can cause injury and death if used improperly. According to the CPSC:

  • An estimated 3,300 residential fires originate from extension cords each year, killing and injuring over 300 people annually.
  • More than half of the injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains caused by people tripping over the cords.
  • Continual use can cause the insulation to rapidly deteriorate, creating a dangerous shock and fire hazard.
  • A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your electrical needs. Have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician where you need them.

To download ESFI’s safety and fact sheet, visit: http://esfi.org/index.cfm/page/Extension-Cord-Safety-Fact-Sheet/cdid/10623/pid/10272

For more information about electrical service and repair or electrical home safety, visit us at: http://www.universalhomeexperts.com.