We often take advantage of the convenience afforded by extension plugs and adaptors to cram in all the plug outlets we need. However, every year, thousands of people are treated for injuries from tripping over extension cords. Overloaded or damaged cables can cause fires.
This article gives a few practical checkpoints so you can stay safe to when you use your extension cables to avoid them causing you a problem.
Extension cables are for temporary use: Extension cables were never meant to replace your home's electrical wiring. One of the most common causes of fires from extension cords happens when they are overloaded or when cords have multiple devices plugged into them for extended lengths of time.
Check for overheating: Hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow or flickering lights - they are all are signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems.
Don't use extension cords with major appliances: Appliances with higher current needs like fridges, freezers, washing machines dryers or some space heaters generate extra heat and are too heavy to be used with extension cables. They should always be plugged into the mains.
Less is more: Avoid "daisy chains" or plugging two shorter cables or surge protector strips together to make them into a longer one. Instead, use a longer continuous length if you need to stretch the reach. Cables that are doubled up or too long can reduce the operating efficiency of your tools and electrical items and could cause potential motor damage.
Tidy up: Take care not to dangle cords from tables or counter tops where they can be pulled down or tripped over. Ideally, it's good not to hide cable underneath carpets, rugs or furniture where it can be stepped on or pinched and damaged. It's best to also avoid tacking cable down by staples to the wall or strung through entrances, windows, through walls, ceilings, or floors.
Inspect for damage: Over time, cables and socket points can deteriorate. Damaged cords present a potential fire or shock hazard and should be destroyed and replaced immediately. Replace worn cables with approved and certified cables. Always remove the plug by its head, not by pulling on the cord to prevent damage.
Avoid adaptors: Sometimes you may want to use two items on one power point. If so, rather than using an adapter which can increase the stress on the plug, installation of a double socket is suggested.
Extra care for kids and pets: Young children and pets can suffer from electrical burns from playing with cables or chewing on them. If your cables don't have safety closures, you can use electrical tape to prevent contact being made with a live circuit.
Avoid water: Keep plugs away from anywhere that they might get wet, including bathrooms, kitchen sinks or even places where you have flower vases that could get spilled.
Remember that a healthy respect for the power of electricity will keep you safer. So don't take chances where electricity is concerned!