Avoid an Extension Cord Fire With These 7 Tips
By Lisa E. Stafford
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 16, 1998 Electrical extension cords are simple and so reliable we rarely give them a second thought. That mistake can cost you your home.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, simple precautions you can take will significantly reduce your risk of a cord-related house fire. Here are some:
- Replace all extension cords after two or three years. Most cords are not intended for long-term use, so inspect them annually. If a cord frays or feels soft in any spot, throw it away.
- Extension cords should always lie flat and straight. A bent cord will overheat at the kink, destroying the insulation over time.
- Never put a cord under a rug or carpeting. Constant traffic will also wear away the cord's insulation.
- Never put more than two plugs into any extension cord. Although some cords can receive three or more plugs, you run the risk of overloading the circuit and starting a fire.
- Connecting a device that draws more power than your extension cord can handle will strain the device and overheat the cord.
- Be cautious with appliances. Unplug small appliances, such as toasters, irons and coffee makers, when not in use. An appliance left plugged into a wall socket may cause a fire if turned on accidentally by a child or pet.
- Do not use extension cords with refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines and other heavy duty appliances. Plug them directly into wall sockets.
If a fire occurs in your home, get everyone out first -- then call 911, emergency services, from a neighbor's.