Extension Cord Safety
Even properly made cords can be hazardous if misused, but the potential for fire or electrocution is increased when defects exist. The public needs to be educated about the seriousness of extension cord hazards and how to avoid them.
1) Buy medium or heavy-duty extension cords, and avoid bargain brands.
2) Read all information and warnings on the package and safety label.
3) Always verify that the cord contains a certification label from an independent testing lab such as UL or ETL on the package and on the product.
4) Note the maximum amperage marked on the packaging, and don't connect loads that exceed 75% of this value. Do not assume a "standard rating" based on wire size. The manufacturer may de-rate heavy-duty cords, cords longer than 50 feet, or cords with integral switches. If you are unsure of a cord rating, assume that it is 10 amps if 50 feet or less, and 7 amps if over 50 feet long.
5) Be sure that the plug is polarized (one prong is wider than the other), or is a three-prong grounded type, and never defeat these features. Do not use two-prong adapters with a three-prong plug. Find an outlet that accepts the polarized or grounded plug.
6) Coiled cords can present a fire hazard. Always uncoil cords completely, and never double them up or cover them during use.
7) Damaged cords present both fire and electric shock hazard. Immediately discard any cord or outlet strip that shows signs of damage or feels hot to the touch during use. Never repair a damaged cord.
8) To prevent fire hazard, never install extension cords in a permanent fashion, or inside ceilings, floors, or walls. Use extension cords only for temporary purposes, and disconnect them when not in use.
9) Cords used outdoors or in damp areas must be designated for outdoor use, and should be connected to an outlet that is protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).
10) Extension cords used on construction sites must be inspected periodically for proper grounding conductor integrity, in accordance with OSHA regulations, or they must be protected by a GFCI.
• Don't use extension cords as permanent wiring.
• If a cord or plug is warm or hot to the touch, unplug it immediately.
• Check extension cords and appliances for signs of wear. Replace - don't attempt to fix - cords that have been cut or damaged.
• Never place electrical cords across traffic areas or under carpets. Don't pinch electrical cords behind or under furniture.
• Polarized plugs have one blade wider than the other and should only be used with polarized extension cords.
• Use heavy-duty three-prong extension cord for tools with three-prong plugs. Never remove or bend back the third prong.
• Use only extension cords that are approved by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Unplug and put away extension cords that are not being used.
• Check the cord's electrical capacity and do not overload it.
• Never puncture insulation of electrical cords by nailing them to any surfaces.
• Make sure your tools are turned off before connecting them to an extension cord.
• When disconnecting the cord, pull the plug rather than the cord itself.
• When outdoors, use extension cords designed for outdoor use.
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