Extension Cords

Written by Charles Peacock
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Electrical extension cords are one of those things we use all the time and don't put nearly enough thought into. Most people see an extension cord and think it's as good (and as safe) as a regular wall outlet, but this is far from the case. Inferior extension cords can pose a serious safety hazard when used in conjunction with high-powered electrical equipment, so you should always take a few precautions when using them.

Extension Cord Safety

The first rule when using extension cords is to make sure they are rated for the type of equipment you're going to be plugging into them. If an extension cord looks thick and is painted orange, don't just assume it can be used with heavy power equipment like drills and saws. Always be sure to read the label on the cord itself to see what kind of wattage it can safely support.

Another rule to keep in mind is to never use indoor extension cords outside. Outdoor extension cords are specially designed to handle outdoor conditions where things like sunlight and and water can quickly deteriorate the outer casing. Leaving indoor extension cords outdoors for extended periods of time (hooked up to christmas lights, for instance) can quickly deteriorate the cords to the point where they pose a serious safety hazard.

Whenever you go to use an older extension cord, be careful to inspect it before plugging it into a wall. Make sure there are no cracks in the insulation, and if there are do not try to repair them. Throw the cord out and buy a new one. It may seem like a waste of money, but it's certainly better than shocking yourself or risking an electrical fire.

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