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Extension cords

Give your extension cord some respect

Next time you reach into the junk drawer for an extension cord, what you should be inking? Besides that fleeting thought that's time to clean out that junk drawer?

Give your extension cord some love. Inspect it before you use. Make sure there aren't any signs of wear like cracks and fraying. If you can't remember when you bought it, it might want to replace it.

Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe while using extension cords.

Make sure:

  • The plug prongs and the slots of the extension cord match (two pronged versus three). Never try to plug a three-pronged cord into a two-slotted outlet. If you have grounded outlets (those are the ones with three slots), it's time to upgrade to a three-pronged cord.
  • The plug is fully inserted into the extension cord. Unplug when it's not in use.
  • Use the cord temporarily. If you are using it long-term, have an electrician install permanent wiring.
  • Cords used outdoors are plugged into a GFCI outlet.
  • You store the cords indoors when you're not using them.

Conversely:

  • NEVER plug major appliances, like a refrigerator or a window air conditioner, into an extension cord. Commonplace household extension cords (those that appear thin and flat and are often inexpensive) and power strips can't handle power surges.
  • NEVER cut the bottom lone prong off to fit in a two-pronge receptacle. This could create a shock hazard.
  • DON'T stretch an extension cord.
  • DON'T drape cords in walkways where they are trip hazard.
  • DON'T use an indoor-rated extension cord outdoors.
  • DON'T use them near water (pools, sprinklers, puddles).
  • DON'T "string" or lengthen cords by plugging one extension cord into another.
  • DON'T overheat or overload an extension cord, place under rugs or carpets in high-traffic areas.

Don't take your extension cord for granted. Give it a once-over and take care when using, and it should serve you well.

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