Seven Tips for Safely Using Extension Cords

Do you grab an extension cord when you need to plug in something, but aren’t close to a wall outlet? GVEC experts offer these tips for extension cord safety.

1. Do Not Buy an Extension Cord Unless It Is Certified as Safe

Like many other electrical devices, extension cords by reputable manufacturers undergo a series of quality control and safety assessments by one or more third-party safety certification companies. Among the best known and most prominent of these companies are UL, CSA and ETL, but there are others. Extension cords that have been tested and certified by one or more of these third-party regulatory agencies will include a logo of the testing organization somewhere on the label. If an extension cord you’re considering for purchase doesn’t include a seal by one of these organizations, don’t buy it.

2. Buy the Correct Size

Gauge is the measurement of the wire inside the cord. The gauge and length of the cord are coordinated. The higher the gauge, the more power the cord can supply. If you need more length or power, buy a longer cord. You risk starting a fire or melting cords if you try to create a longer cord by plugging several shorter ones into each other. It’s also dangerous to use a cord that can’t supply the amount of power needed for the job you have in mind.

3. Match the Cord to Your Appliance or Tool

Your devices use specified amps or wattage. Extension cords will be labeled as to the amps or wattage they’re designed to supply. Those numbers should be compatible with those listed on the appliance or tool. Using the wrong cord can lead to dangerous overheating.

4. Do Not Plug More Than One Device Into an Extension Cord

Doing so overloads the cord. Overloading can start a fire.

5. Do Not Enclose or Cover Extension Cords

Enclosing or covering extension cords keeps the heat generated by the electricity traveling through the cord from escaping. Fire can result.

6. Avoid Using Indoor Cords Outdoors

Indoor cords don’t have adequate insulation to use safely in the elements. All cords must be kept out of water to avoid electrical shock.

7. Do Not Modify an Extension Cord

Most extension cords have a round “grounding prong.” Do not cut that prong off. It protects your devices from electrical malfunctions and protects you from being shocked.

Extension Cords Are a Temporary Solution

If you’re using extension cords frequently or for long periods, you may need to consider getting additional receptacles installed. Not sure if adding receptacles in your home is the right way to go? GVEC’s team of fully licensed, experienced professional electricians in South Central Texas can help you assess your needs and answer all your questions about adding additional electrical outlets. We can do those installations, too, along with a complete range of other electrical work for home and small business. Our services include solar installation, whole-home surge protection, electrical inspections and much more. You can count on GVEC for fast, friendly service at competitive rates. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 888.590.7773.