Home Inspection Tips: Extension Cord Safety

It is Christmas season and for many of us that means it is time to celebrate with Christmas trees, lights and many decorations.  This is also a time of the year that we dust off the good old extension cords, and begin to happily plug away.  Fire safety is very important this time of year and it is important for Aspect Fire Solutions to make us keep a few things in mind if you do not want to end up becoming a statistic:

  1.  Never use and extension that is frayed or damaged.  Wrapping them in ‘electrical’ tape is not the answer, it is time to simply buy  a new cord.  Do not be cheap; buy a good quality extension cord that is rated for your intended use.  Also NEVER overload and extension cord.  It is not a good idea to plug one electrical strip into another.  Use separate outlets for your power strips.
  2. 2-Prong, 3-prong, grounded outlets.  DO NOT plug a 3 -prong outlet into an extension cord that has a 2-prong opening.  Leaving the ground post exposed is a recipe for disaster.  Use a 3-prong cord for 3-prong plugs.
  3. Extension cords should be unplugged by pulling the cord out of the outlet by the base, not by simply yanking the cord out of the outlet.  By yanking the cord from the outlet you can damage the end of the cord, and can even pull the outlet loose from the wall.  Do not be lazy, pull out the cord by the base.
  4. Route your extension cords AWAY from heavy traffic areas.  Trips and falls from extension cords account for 2000 emergency room visits each year.  Look at your front porch and make sure your cords are not running over the steps. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission about 4000 people each year are treated for injury in an emergency room due to extension cord injuries and about 13% of those are children under 5 and include severe burns.  The CPSC also estimates that 3300 fires per year are directly related to extension cords, injuring almost 300 people and killing about 50. 

Do not be a statistic.  Be careful.