According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, approximately 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords each year. These fires kill 50 people and injure 270 annually.
A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to meet your needs. Don’t substitute extension cords for permanent wiring. Have additional outlets installed where you need them.
Extension cords can overheat and cause fires when not properly used. There are things you can do to properly use extension cords, according to the Foundation.
- Don’t attempt to plug extension cords into one another.
- Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, such as indoor and outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the device being used.
- Keep all outdoor extension cords clear of snow and standing water.
- Don’t overload extension cords.
- Inspect cords for damage before use. Check for cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections.
- Don’t staple or nail extension cords to walls or baseboards.
- Don’t run extension cords through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. If an extension cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which can result in a fire hazard.
- Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that have only two slots. Never cut off the ground pin to force a fit which can lead to electric shock.
- Buy only extension cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory.
- Don’t use extension cords or power strips with heaters or fans, which can cause cords to overheat and result in a fire.