Extention Cords Safety Tips The Dos And Donts

Published by

Nov 24, 2021

Extension Cords Safety Tips: The Do's And Don'ts 


record of 116 electrical fatalities was documented in 2019; about 116 people died of electrocution, a 3.75% increase over the numbers in 2018. We stated the fact to help you understand why you need to be careful with extension cords because if you don't use them right, it could end up causing fire hazards or electrocution.  


It is not the first time you hear of extension cords; in fact, you probably use them day in and day out. You might never have paid attention to taking cautions using an extension, but this article is about to show you the dos and don'ts of an extension cord. 



Choosing the right extension cord type for your needs 

Before proceeding to the list of dos and don'ts, you should know that extension cords packaging comes with labels. In this section, you will know what each label stands for, but generally, the extension cord falls into three categories: frequent, occasional, and rugged.  

Alongside the categories, some cords are best for indoor (i.e., basic extension cords), and others are best for outdoors (i.e., heavy-duty extension cords). Heavy-duty extension cords differ from basic extension cords with their insulation; outdoor extension cords usually have rubber, plastic, or vinyl covers which makes them heavy-duty. You may also get flat cord power strip for its capacity. Remember to check your cord or its packaging for any of the letters below. 


  • The letter S: Tells you that the cord is for general use and is best when used indoors. 


  • The letter W: When you see the letter W, consider that the preferable cord use is outdoor applications.  


  • The letter J:  This indicates that the insulation can support an electrical power of up to 300 volts; when you don't see J on the cord, it means the cord's design is for heavier use (i.e., 600-volt insulation). 


  • The letter P: This cord identifies as a household extension cord built in parallel with construction. 


  • The letter T: A cord with the letter T indicates that the cord's cover is made with vinyl thermoplastic. 


  • The letter E: The letter indicates that the cover of the cord is made of TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer Rubber). 


  • The letter O: A sign to let you know that the cord is oil resistant. 




The Do's of an Extension Cord 


  • Confirm that you purchase a cord that an Independent Testing Laboratory has tested and approved. You can confirm by checking the cord's body for an Independent Testing Laboratory mark (i.e., Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek, Canadian Standards Association, etc.), which shows that the extension cord has met Governmental safety regulations. 


  • You should take time out to read the manual of the cord if there is any. In the manual, you will find how to use the line properly and information on the amount of power it can take. Take caution when selecting devices to which the extension cord will attach. Also, note that a smaller cord gauge size means the wire is large, which indicates that the cord can handle a higher flow of electric current. The length of the cord matters, too; a smaller cable can control the flow of electric current better than a long cord with the same gauge size. Thick and low gauge size extension cords are also perfect for large appliances, while thin and higher gauge size extension cords are suitable for smaller devices. 


  • Make sure to unplug the extension cords when you are not using them. However, when they are in use, make sure to connect the plug of an extension cord firmly to the outlet, leaving no gals to help secure the connection. 


  • Before using a cord, check if it has any damage; you can identify by checking for exposed insulation or wires. If the line is damaged, throw them away. 


  • Earlier, we discussed the different cord types; only use cords tagged with S for indoor use and cables labeled with W for outdoor use. 


  • Always go for polarised extension cords or cords with three-prong plugs. 


  • Keep your extension cords indoors, away from water, and in an open area with no obstruction; this is to help them release heat properly. 


  • Ensure to use the extension cords temporarily and replace them when they are worn out. 


  • When an extension cord is not in use, make sure to cover it with childproof covers. 



The Don'ts of Extension Cords 

  • Don't try to fit in the grounding pin of an extension cord into a two-prong outlet. 


  • Never power multiple appliances at a time with the same cord.  


  • Avoid passing the extension cords in areas like water, snow, under the rug, or furniture. If you run extension cords underneath a table in the past, you should avoid it in the future because it can short out the extension cord and lead to shock fire at the cord's outlet or fire hazard. 


  • Never plug two extension cords into one another with electric current flowing. 


  • Don't use extension cords that are overheated or preheated even before you use them. 


  • Don't connect an extension cord to a device with a higher watt rating than the extension cord; it could lead to a fire hazard. 


  • Avoid taping the extension cords to the floor or using nails to attach them to other objects. 


  • Never pull the cords, only pull the plug when you are about to disconnect the extension cord from an outlet. 


  • Bending an extension cord that is in use is not safe. 


  • Never attach an extension cord to appliances like heaters, air conditioners, or fans because your extension cord might overheat, which may lead to a fire outbreak. 


  • Avoid using an extension cord for permanent purposes. 


  • Never drive on top of an extension; you will destroy it. 




You might have done some of the don'ts we mentioned in the past, and fire may have never occurred. That doesn't mean you should keep doing them. Learn from your mistakes and take the necessary precautions from now on. You can make a list of the don'ts you may have done so as not to repeat them.