Choosing a Safe Extension Cord
Extension cords are a common and convenient way to bring power to electrical devices. But used without proper caution, they can become fire hazards and pose risks to your personal safety.
When selecting an extension cord, you’ll want to choose the one that’s perfect for the task at hand. For outdoor projects, use only extension cords marked for outdoor use. Read the instructions for information about the cord's correct use and the amount of power it draws. Purchase only cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory, and choose only cords with polarized, or three-prong plugs.
Select cords that are rated to handle the wattage of the devices with which they'll be used. A cord's gauge indicates its size: The smaller the number, the larger the wire and the more electrical current the cord can safely handle. For use with larger appliances, thick, round, low-gauge extension cords are best. For smaller appliancesand electronics, you can use thin or flat cords. Also consider the length you'll need. Longer cords can't handle as much current as shorter cords of the same gauge.
Once you’ve selected your cord, you want to take care to use it safely. Never remove an extension cord's grounding pin in order to fit it into a two-prong outlet. Avoid powering multiple appliances with one cord, and don't plug multiple cords together. Never tape extension cords to the floor, attach them to surfaces with staples or nails, or run the underneath rugs or furniture. Don’t bend or coil cords when they’re in use. Never use indoor extension cords outdoors, and if they ever feel hot to the touch, stop using them immediately.
If you properly care for your extension cords, they can provide years of use. Alwaysstore extension cords indoors and unplug them when they’re not in use. If your cords are damaged, throw them away. When unplugging a cord from an outlet, pullit by its plug, and not the cord.
Finally, remember that extension cords are intended as temporary wiring solutions. If you find you're using them on a permanent basis, consider updating your home's electrical system.
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