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The Safe Way to Use Extension Cords: How to Stay Out of Danger

We all rely on extension cords to power our gadgets and appliances, but we often don't consider the dangers they pose. If not used correctly, extension cords can be deadly. In this blog post, we will discuss safe practices for using extension cords so that you can stay out of danger! Everyone benefits from this knowledge, especially if you are a new homeowner. You need not be an electrician to have the confidence to rely on these incredible tools!

Use the Right Extension Cord

If you're using an extension cord, there are a few important safety guidelines to follow to minimize the risk of fire or electrocution. First, make sure that the extension cord is rated for the amount of power you're trying to draw. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the amount of power you're trying to draw.

For example, suppose you are using a lawn mower that draws 12 amps. The extension cord should be at least 12-gauge and no longer than 50 feet in length.

Gauge Size & Amperage

Extension cords are available in different gauges, each designed for a different purpose. The most common gauges are 16, 14, and 12. Heavier-duty extension cords, such as those used for RVs or construction sites, can be as low as eight-gauge.

As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the wire, the higher the amperage rating. For example, a 16-gauge extension cord is designed for light household use and can handle up to 13 amps, while a 12-gauge extension cord is better suited for heavy-duty appliances and can carry up to 20 amps.

If you're using an extension cord for a high-powered appliance, such as a power washer or table saw, make sure the cord is heavy-duty and rated for the amperage of the appliance.

Special Purpose

There are also different types of extension cords for various purposes. If you need an extension cord that can be used outdoors, get one that's specifically rated for outdoor use. These extension cords are usually brightly colored for high visibility and have thicker insulation than indoor-only extension cords. If you're using extension cords indoors, be sure to choose ones that are rated for indoor use.

 

Damage Control

Choosing the correct extension cord is most of the work! The rest is also simple if you can confirm your extension cord can handle the task you need. While actively using extension cords, your main safety concern is making sure any parts of the cord isn't damaged during use. Look around your environment for anything that could cause cuts or scratches to the cable covering. Is the cord leaning against a sharp edge or furniture? Is it in the way of foot traffic? These are all critical elements to consider to avoid damaging the wires.

  • Don't run cords under rugs or carpets.
  • Keep cords away from heaters, ovens, and other sources of heat.
  • Do not use extension cords for hours at a time.
  • Check if the cable is warm to the touch for evidence of overheating.

 

Extension Cord Safety for New Homeowners

If you're a new homeowner, there are a few extra things you need to be aware of when it comes to extension cord safety.

  1. First, familiarize yourself with the location of your home's breaker box. In the event of an electrical emergency, you'll need to be able to find and shut off the power quickly.
  2. Second, ensure you have more than one fire extinguisher in your home. Make sure that everyone in your household knows how to use it. In the event of an electrical fire, time is of the essence.
  3. Lastly, keep in mind that extension cords are not a permanent solution. If you find yourself using extension cords regularly, it's time to call an electrician. This is especially true if you use multiple extension cords to power different appliances. A licensed electrician can assess your home's electrical needs and make any necessary upgrades.

 

General Safety Practices:

  • Don't overload an extension cord by plugging in too many appliances.
  • Don't plug in two extension cords to get more length; instead, make sure you have the correct cord!
  • Use a surge protector to protect your electronics from power surges.
  • Never use an extension cord with damaged insulation or exposed wires. If the cable is frayed or otherwise damaged, it could quickly overheat and start a fire.
  • Extension cords should be stored away from children and pets when not in use.

Safety First

Finally, always unplug extension cords when you're not using them. If left plugged in, they could quickly become overloaded and pose a severe safety hazard. Extension cords are a great way to get power to where you need it, but it's essential to use them safely.

Following these simple safety tips can help ensure that extension cord usage is safe for everyone.

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