Extension Cord Safety Tips
The next time you reach for an extension cord, remember this: just because a particular cord is long enough, it’s not necessarily the right one for the job. It can be easy to think that length is the only characteristic that sets one extension cord apart from another, but there’s much more to it than that!
Power extension cords aren’t all the same: they’re manufactured to be used in different environments, and to carry varying amounts of electrical current. By basing your choice of extension cord on each task’s specific requirements, you can greatly reduce the risks of fire, electrical shock, and injury that come with improper use. So keep reading… below you’ll find a brief extension cord tutorial and helpful safety tips, courtesy of CableOrganizer.com!
Indoor and Outdoor Classifications
Extension cords are classified for either indoor or outdoor use. What’s the difference between the two? The insulation, or jacket, of an outdoor-rated extension cord is made of a tougher material, which is designed to withstand temperature changes, moisture, UV rays, and (sometimes) chemicals. While it’s fine to use an outdoor power cord indoors, never use an indoor-rated extension cord for an outside job… doing so could cause electric shock or create a fire hazard.
Gauge, Distance, and Wattage Rating
Any electrical cord, extension or otherwise, contains an inner metal conducting wire, which carries electrical current from one end to the other. The thickness of this conductor is referred to as its gauge. Gauge is indicated by a number; the lower the number, the thicker the wire is. A wire’s thickness directly affects the amount of current (or wattage) it can carry over a certain distance.
The number of watts an extension cord can safely transmit (given its length and gauge) is known as a wattage rating. Before plugging an appliance or power tool into an extension cord, it’s extremely important to be sure that the power demand (or pull) of that device doesn’t exceed the cord’s wattage rating. On the same note, if you’ll be powering multiple devices from one extension cord, calculate their combined energy requirements and make sure that the total isn’t higher than the wattage rating for that cord. Never use an extension cord to supply more wattage than it’s rated for, since overheating and fire may occur.
How to Determine a Device’s Power Requirements
It isn’t difficult to figure out how much electricity is required to run different devices. For the most part, you won’t need to do more than consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Another good place to look for wattage specs? The tags that are often attached to a device’s power cord. And if all else fails, a quick call to the product’s manufacturer should clear up any questions.
A few things to know before you plug in:
If your electrical extension cord can accommodate multiple plugs but not all outlets are being used, block unused openings with outlet covers to prevent injury to children and pets.
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