If you thought that Teflon® was just for non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics, think again. We’re used to using the slippery stuff around the house pretty much every day, but did you know that it can actually be spun into filaments and braided into a protective sleeving for cables and wire assemblies? I know – it blew my mind, too.
Teflon braided sleeving isn’t the stuff you’d use to snazz up A/V cables or organize computer wires – it is, in short, what the proverbial Big Dogs use to create a protective, friction-reducing shield around wiring in military vehicles, aircraft, and other high-intensity environments. Temps up to 550°F? Teflon’s the heat shield for the job. Abrasion? Don’t make me laugh (try scraping up something that repels pretty much everything). And chemicals, solvents and fuels? Teflon® sleeving was tested in the presence of 16 of the toughest common industrial substances, and it barely batted an eyelash.
With something so rugged, you’d think that it might be a handful to work with, but thanks to Teflon’s notoriously slick characteristics, it slides gently though your hands as you maneuver it along cable assembles, unlike some other more run-of-the-mill braids that can have a slight sandpaper effect after a while. It’s the classic “tough-guy-turns-out-to-be-a-softy” scenario – and if you ask me, that’s one situation you would want any mission-critical cable to be in.
Filed under: Electrical, Fire Protection, Workplace Safety
I usually try to kick off my blog posts with an at least somewhat comical life observation, personal experience or childhood memory, but today I’m going to put all things quirky aside, and instead blog in all seriousness. Today, we’re talking about arc flash, an area in which I’m very grateful to have to no firsthand experience. In case you’re not too familiar with arc flash, it’s basically an industrial-strength electrical short that causes voltage from one conductor to spontaneously “arc” through the air to another exposed conductor. This arcing action can result in an extreme electrical explosion called an arc blast, which has the power to gravely injure, or even kill, anyone who happens to be nearby.
The explosion can generate a pressure wave that packs thousands of pounds per square inch, as well as temperatures up to 35,000°F. Force and temperatures of this magnitude can mean broken bones, collapsed lungs, ruptured eardrums, concussions, extensive third degree burns, and even damaged eyesight – and that’s if you’re lucky and it doesn’t just kill you on the spot. Arc blast can easily become personal tragedy, and there are electrical workers who face the risk of it every day.
Thanks to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and OSHA, electrical workers are now required to wear a range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and flame retardant (FR) clothing to decrease their risk of injury should an arc blast occur in an area in which they’re working. Standard items of arc flash clothing include FR shirts, pants, and coveralls, arc flash hoods, face shields, safety goggle, ear protection, insulating rubber and leather gloves, and dielectric footwear made of rubber and/or leather. But while most arc flash PPE is intended to be worn, there’s one protective measure that you don’t actually put on: the arc protection blanket.
Arc protection blankets are generally made of heavy-duty canvas, and are intended to create a barrier between the arc explosion and the worker. Depending on the room or vault that the work is taking place in, arc protection blankets can either be suspended in various ways, or hung up against a wall. They’re particularly good for work in underground vaults, where they can be arranged like a makeshift funnel, to direct blast energy up and out of the chamber. Arc blast blankets not only have the ability to direct blast flow, but are also able to absorb impact and contain flames to a certain degree. And while they may not be completely foolproof (nothing is, when it comes to arc flash), when used in conjunction with regular arc flash PPE, they can leave you a lot better off than you’d be if you hadn’t used one.
A decade in South Florida may not have gotten me a tan, but it did something even better: desensitized me to the presence of reptiles. A random gecko or two in the house? No problem. An iguana lumbering across my front walk? Bring it on. And a giant, bright-green anole in the backyard mango tree? Awesome!
I feel so liberated that I can now sleep at night, even knowing that there may be a lizard loose in the house (true, those geckos may be tiny, but still: progress is progress). There’s just one problem: even though I’m finally able to harmoniously coexist with lizards, I still have a major aversion to snakes. I’m not even talking about the various Asian and African pythons that are slowly strangling the life out of the Everglades. I’m taking about garter snakes. They’re generally puny and pathetic as far as slithering wildlife goes, but they keep trying to sneak into the house through my side door, and at that I take great offense.
Ever since I found that baby garter snake hanging out in the middle of my hallway late one Friday night, I’ve begun cringing involuntarily at the sight of anything that’s black and yellow striped and has a tendency to arrange itself in a wavy, s-like shape. I shiver to imagine such things. But I think I may have found something that will get me over that…
Strangely enough, it’s a cord cover, but one of a most peculiar sort. You know how garter snakes are slithery and striped with black and yellow in a bad way? Well, the SideWinder Cable Protection System is both of those things as well, but in a very, very good way.
Most cord protectors are rigid, and have the tendency to run only in straight lines unless you connect them with specially-manufactured angles and bends. Every twist and turn you make is extremely deliberate, and you have to plan ahead and purchase accordingly for them. But what if you could protect ground cables with something that was both incredibly tough and flexible, that you could just snake around obstructions as needed, without any special planning or parts. You can, with the SideWinder.
The SideWinder system is made up of a long line of articulating 1.5″ segments, which are hinged together to form a single, continuous cord protector. Need to round a corner or work around a column, platform, or other obstruction? No problem – just bend the SideWinder to follow any path, no matter how full of turns it may be. It can even be customized for length: just snap on or remove extra pieces, and you won’t be stuck with too much or too little coverage. Talk about great cable protection that won’t cramp your style…
Today, we’re getting back to basics with Wiremold Cord Protectors. Not only are these a customer favorite, they’re also some of the simplest products we have for protecting cables around the house or at the office. If you’ve never used light-duty cord covers, they’re the perfect way to guard cables that run across walkways. The combination of cords and pedestrians can be a dangerous one, because your cables can be crushed beyond use if they’re trampled on too much, and also threaten to snag the feet of people who aren’t watching where they’re going. These flat-lying cord covers are made of flexible plastic, and are designed with an arched top that makes them easy to walk or pull an office chair (or small cart) over.
Using a Wiremold cord protector is incredibly easy – the flat bottom surface is slit all the way along it’s length, so you just slip cables through the center slit, turn the cord cover right side up, and lay it on the floor in any direction you need it to go in. If you really want the cord protector to get a good grip on the floor, you can apply double-sided tape along the bottom edges to help it stay in place.
Because no two cable-protecting jobs are exactly the same, you have a choice of lengths, so you’re covered in just about any situation. Wiremold cord covers come in 5, 10, 25, and 50-foot lengths, and can be further trimmed to size using just a utility knife or heavy duty scissors. You also have 3 neutral color choices (beige, black, and grey) to match just about any decor, or, if you want your cord covers to really stand out for safety, you also have the option of high-visibilty yellow.
If you’ve ever wished that the sight of a simple plastic cord cover could make you go “oooooooooooooohhh!” the way twinkle lights do, then it looks like you’re about to meet your match. Allow me to introduce you to one of my personal favorites, the Transparent Cord Protector. This crystal clear, ultra-flexible cord cover has been designed with visibility (and Christmas lights) in mind. But this cool little number isn’t limited to the holidays – it’s perfect for decorating any floor or walkway you want to illuminate with strings of lights. And because it creates a protective barrier between your feet and the delicate light strands, it both preserves your lights and prevents you and your guests from tripping.
The transparent cord protector is very simple to use: just slit the bottom channel open with a utility knife, pop in the lights of your choice, flip the whole thing over onto its flat side, and you’re ready to go. And because it’s available in three different lengths (5 ft, 10 ft and 25 ft), you can choose the length that’s best suited to your decorating/cord protecting project. To cover longer distances, just buy a few and arrange them end-to-end.
While I generally suggest using your imagination with this product, I’m going to cheat a little and give you a few ideas on where you can start, based on what our customers have told us they use them for. Aside from decorating for holiday parties, these cord covers are also terrific for skater-proof floor illumination at roller rinks, and add a beautiful glow to home theater aisles, walkways, and patios.
*Please keep in mind that the Transparent Cord Protector does not come with lights – those are up to you. We suggest using either standard indoor/outdoor Christmas lights or rope lights.