Whether your home is old or new, extension cord safety goes with any era.
Old homes have a quaint quality to them. They have that "lived in" feeling. And, they have about seven electrical outlets in the entire house trying to keep up with your modern lifestyle. New homes offer more conveniences and, though they still need time to develop a personality, they do usually have modern electrical capabilities. Even with those capabilities, though, many of us tend to congregate our devices into small areas where extension cords—and extension cord safety—become paramount. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, "Roughly 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 more."
Overloaded power strips aren't much better. In just one example, one person died and another was severely burned in two Manhattan fires (on August 17 and August 18, 2014). Both fires were blamed on overloaded power strips.
13 Power Strip and Extension Cord Safety Tips
1. Only use UL-certified cords
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) sets safety standards for many consumer products. These standards are based on safety research, testing, and scientific data. Furthermore, almost any electronic consumer good worth buying goes through UL testing.
2. Use the right cord for the job
Do not use indoor extension cords outdoors. They aren't designed for the moisture they may come in contact with outdoors.
3. Go unplugged
Extension cords are a temporary fix for permanent wiring. They aren't a replacement. Don't leave them plugged in if you aren't using them. The same goes for power strips.
4. Keep it cool
If power strips or extension cords are hot to the touch, unplug them. You may be overloading the cord.
5. Don't hide them
Don't run cords under carpets, rugs, or furniture. Be sure there is plenty of air circulating around them. Don't tack them to the wall, either, as this could damage the wire. And while you want to keep them in the open, do be cautious about where you place an extension cord. You don't want it to turn into a tripping hazard.
6. Keep it dry
Water and electricity don't mix. Keep your power strip and extension cord away from water.
7. Fly it solo
Keep power strips limited to one per typical electrical outlet. Don't plug one power strip or extension cord into another. If you can't reach a wall outlet, you need a longer cord or a different location.
8. Keep it on the straight and narrow
Okay, narrow isn't a necessity, but power strip cords should be fairly straight while you're using them. Make sure extension cords aren't knotted or kinked.
9. Check it out
Visually inspect your power strips and extension cords regularly. If you notice holes or tears in the wire, it's time for a new one.
10. Throw it out
Old, worn, or broken cords have no place in your home. You can get a new UL-approved extension cord for as little as a few dollars. A new power strip isn't too much more than that. Isn't your safety and peace of mind worth a few bucks?
11. Avoid big appliances
Don't use extension cords or power strips for refrigerators, microwaves, and other energy-needy appliances. They draw far too much energy for a cord to keep up with and will overload and overheat the cord.
12. Not too much, not too little
Get the right cord for your needs. A long extension cord loses power as it travels to your device, and a cord that's too short doesn't help you.
13. Put the electrical tape away
Electrical tape is no substitute for an intact cord. If a cord is frayed, discard it.
Don't forget to keep up with your home or rental insurance, either. It's one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure your home and belongings are taken care of. Call your Pekin Insurance agent today and get the coverage you need.