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Extensions Cords Could Spell Disaster if Not Used Properly

Over 3,300 residential fires originate from extension cords each year, killing or injuring over 300 people.*

Extension cords are flexible, insulated electrical wires with plug(s) at either end. They are designed for TEMPORARY use. For example, using an
extension cord to power an electrical drill while installing an electrical outlet is a temporary use. Running an extension cord from an electrical outlet to a drill press is NOT a temporary use.

The insulation on an extension cord is designed to be flexible, but wears quickly, especially when extension cords are run along floors. Contact with even one exposed wire on an extension cord can result in a shock or ignition point. Extension cords on floors are a common trip hazard. The majority of the injuries mentioned above were fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains caused by people tripping over the cords.

Remember these safety tips when using extension cords:

• 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-foot to 15-foot 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.

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