With all of the electronic devices that have taken over our homes, chances are most of us have insufficient wall outlets and rely on extension cords and power strips to keep us connected. Although these power extenders are convenient, they can pose serious safety risks if not used properly.
What Is An Extension Cord?
An extension cord is an insulated, flexible electric wire filled with a plug at one end and one or more sockets at the other end. Extension cords provide a convenient way to use electrical equipment that can’t reach a wall outlet.
Electrical extension cords come in several different types, lengths, and sizes. There are two important factors that determine any cord’s load capacity, which is its ability to carry electrical current:
Wire gauge: The thickness or diameter of the wire affects how much current the wire can carry and how much the wire heats up.
Length: The length of the extension cord affects voltage drop, or how much voltage is lost through resistance in the cord wires
When choosing the appropriate extension cord, it will be based on the type of device that will be plugged into the cord. There are three types of electrical extension cords:
Light-Duty Extension Cords-these cords are often NOT grounded, meaning they have only two plug prongs and do not include a third wire and prong for grounding. These cords should only be used for small, low voltage devices such as table lamps and clocks that draw no more than 7 amps of power
Medium-Duty Extension Cords-these cords are grounded extension cords, which include the third wire and plug prong for grounding. They have plugs that accept three-prong grounded appliance cords, such as televisions and computers or other devices that draw up to 10 amps of power
Heavy-Duty Extension Cords-these cords are ALWAYS grounded and include a third wire and plug prong. They can be used for devices that draw up to 15 amps of power, such as power tools and space heaters
Extension cords are a leading cause of electrical fires and can cause serious injury or even death if used improperly. The First General team recommends these extension cord safety tips:
- When using an extension cord, be sure to choose a cord with the proper amp capacity depending on the type of device that will be plugged into it
- Only use extension cords on a temporary basis. They should always be unplugged and properly stored after every use
- Extension cords should not be run through walls, under drop ceiling tiles, or under floor boards. This may cause the cord to over heat and catch fire
- Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Electrical shock or serious burns can result from a faulty or over loaded extension cord
- Ensure all extension cords are certified by a nationally recognized testing lab such as UL, CSA, or ETL
According to the NFPA, an estimated 3,300 residential fires originate from extension cords each year. For more information on extension cord safety, visit their website: https://www.nfpa.org/
If you have experienced a fire due to extension cords or any other source and need emergency fire restoration services, visit out page Fire Damage Restoration