Electricity is a complex phenomenon.  

When your home was built, the electrical system was carefully designed to safely meet and anticipate some increase in electrical demand. The older the house, the more likely renovation work or upgrades have been performed over the years (hopefully, all up to code when performed!).  

Yet we are plugging more devices into our electrical system than ever before. As a result, extension cord usage continues to be famous (and power strips and outlet extenders as well). Many argue that extension cords should never be used permanently.  While we agree with this position, it’s not always practical. Even in a modern home, there’s still that table lamp that just can’t reach the outlet based on the room design/furniture layout. 

Thus, let common sense win out. 

What do the statistics quote? 

According to estimates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), hospital emergency rooms receive over 4,000 accidents related to electric extension cables annually. People who trip over extension cables typically sustain fractures, cuts, contusions, or sprains, accounting for around half of the injuries.  

Additionally, according to CPSC estimates, approximately 3,300 residential fires that result in 50 fatalities and 270 injuries annually start with extension cords. Short circuits, overloading, breakage, and improper use of extension cables are the most common causes of these fires. 

This is one of the reasons one must carefully adhere to extension cord safety applications and manuals.  

Before delving deeper, let’s check out some essential safety tips for using extension cords/cables at home. 

  1. Steer clear of using extension cables near heat sources, water, or high-traffic areas.

 Electrical cords can be damaged by extreme heat or high traffic, so stay away from them at all times. Additionally, you want to stay away from any circumstance in which an extension cord could trip someone. Ensure the extension cord is in great shape and only hooked into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit if you must use it in a moist environment. Visit our website on GFCI Outlets for additional details on GFCI and cord safety. 

  1. Never connect two cords:

Connecting an extension cord to a different device is a serious and straightforward security breach. OSHA regulations are broken because there is a chance of burns, equipment failure, or electric shock.  

The OSHA has standards that specify how companies can protect their employees from harm. They publish guidelines that apply to most work sites and cover manufacturing, marine operations, and general business. 

  1. A power cord’s rank is determined by its length. 

The current capacity of two different cords is cut in half when plugged into one another. Volt fall and extreme heating follow from this.  

Although extending cables should not be longer than 100 feet, people frequently attempt to shorten the wire’s length by joining two electrical cords.  A makeshift power delivery box can be required if the task requires a greater distance than 100 feet. 

  1. Use a single cord no more than 100 feet long for each instrument. 

Don’t go over 100 feet. A temporary electrical distribution box must be erected if a project calls for a distance of more than 100 feet. Never connect two extension cords. This error may result in electrocution, equipment malfunctions, and fires. Length determines power cord ratings. When two cables are plugged together, their current capacity is cut in half, causing a voltage fall and overheating.  

It is advised that you only buy cables produced with 12-gauge wire to prevent having to figure out and worry about voltage loss issues. Even in lengths greater than 100 feet, this gauge wire will function flawlessly with all your power tools.  

  1. Never utilize a damaged cord. 

If there is electrical or adhesive tape on the cord, it has been broken and repaired. Although it is against OSHA laws, the cord might still function. Patches may not be used on extension cords. Cutting off the damaged section and installing a new end is the only repair that is permitted for a damaged cord. This is okay if it can shorten the cord.  

Surface damage is deemed irreversible and unrepairable if it breaks through the cord’s outer protective covering. Be cautious to keep your cables safe. They are easily damaged by driving over them, kinking or squeezing them, or dropping something on them. 

Other Extension Cord Safety Tips 

  • Before using any extension cords, take a moment to check them. They can be our workhorses, but over time, with constant use, they may deteriorate or sustain harm. Using an extension cord that is damaged increases the risk of electrical sparks, fire, or shock. Arcing has been linked to typical extension cord problems, such as cracking, cutting, and water ingress. 
  • Avoid placing extension cords beneath rugs or other materials since this can cause heat to build up excessively without exceeding the cord’s rated temperature. Likewise, carefully unwind or uncoil the long wire you’re using for a high-power gadget since this can prevent excessive heat buildup. 
  • Extension cables can easily cause trips and falls, so keep them out of foot traffic. 
  • Keep extension wires apart from other extension cords. Using a cable that is the appropriate length and gauge for your purpose is preferable to “daisy-chaining” them together. 

Different kinds of extension cords – a brief guide! 

  1. Flat Extension Cords 

Since a flat extension cable is constructed from several wires rather than a single, continuous piece of wire, its length can range from two to ten feet. Furthermore, no construction rule requires a specific gauge thickness to distribute sufficient power across the entirety of the device.  

  1. Regular cords 

These are among the most popular extension cords, and most people use them regularly. They are offered in grounded and ungrounded forms and vary in length and color.  

  1. Twist-lock cords

These cords are perfect for heavier objects or outdoor use because they are more substantial and resilient than regular cords. What’s more? They are offered in different lengths and in grounded and ungrounded forms.  

  1. Appliance cords 

For use with appliances, these are shortened extension cords usually fitted with a polarized plug. This goes for appliance cords, as they come in different lengths and can be purchased in grounded and ungrounded forms.  

  1. T-connection cables 

These extension cables, often known as “Y” connections or “triple tap” cords, have three plugs that let you connect several devices simultaneously.  

After all! 

When integrating extension cables, there are a few ways to ensure worker security and your work safety. Most of these techniques rely on the users’ vigilance and the gear they employ. However, there are protocols in place to guarantee that extension cables do not harm workers. By guaranteeing electrical safety, you and your peers will be shielded from severe mishaps or injuries if you adhere to the stated rules. 

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