A piece of electrical equipment that can be found in almost every home, the electrical extension cord, is widely used to power multiple electrical appliances from a single power source. Moreover, the long cable length of the extension cord allows the supply of power to devices at a distance from the source. These characteristics make our daily requirements of charging or powering our electronic items placed at vast distances from the power sources, much more manageable. However, extension cords are highly misused at households, leading to an increased risk of casualties such as fires. Here are five common mistakes people make while using extension cords.
Every extension cord has a limit to the number of watts with which it can power appliances. The load capacity depends not only on the thickness (in gauge) of the copper wire constituting the extension cord, but also the length of the cable. These specifications must be kept in mind while purchasing the perfect cord according to your needs. For example, a 12 gauge extension cord can primarily safely power appliances with a load of up to 15 amps.
It's not uncommon to load an extension cord with many appliances at a time. The equivalent load, thus, tends to be above the threshold load of the extension cord. As a result, the cable can get overheated and damaged. In some cases, violent fires can also ensue as a result of overheating. Thus, you must avoid this common mistake of overloading the extension cord at all costs.
Different extension cords are designed to suit indoor and outdoor needs. Using an indoor extension cord at an outside location is a common mistake at households. The comparatively less durable design of the indoor cables can not endure harsh outdoor use, and with time, gets damaged beyond use. Other places that you must avoid placing the extension cord at are in doorways, on ceilings, under rags, and close to water. Placing the extension cord on areas with heavy footfall, like doorways, always ensues a risk of people tripping and falling. Placing the electrical appliance under rags not only increases the risk of people tripping but also leads to overheating of the device, which may lead to a fire.
Further, taping the cord to the ceiling is not advisable since such positioning of an electrical appliance is prone to malfunctioning and consequent fatal accidents. Lastly, placing the extension cord near water is just an accident waiting to happen. Water being an excellent conductor of electricity can cause violent electric shocks to the user. Therefore, all such commonly made mistakes concerning placing the extension cord must be averted.
The plugging of one extension cord into another is a prevalent error made at households and is a massive violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Standards devised by OSHA. The need for plugging one cord into another arises when a single extension cord is not nearly long enough or when there are a limited number of power sources and a large number of electrical appliances. However, such practice causes a significant safety hazard due to the potential of leading to equipment failure, causing a fire or electrocution. Hence, it is best to stray from such practices to ensure safety.
Pinning the extension cord to surfaces using staples or nails is one of the more straightforward methods to affix the cable. However, doing so might not only impair the functionality of the electrical appliance but may further cause harm to the users. The sharp nature of the metal staples and nails damages the insulating rubber coating layer of the cord, which causes leakage of electric current. Such stray currents can cause subsequent violent electric shocks. You should thus, sidestep this prevalent mistake.
With irresponsible use, it is quite natural for even a brand new extension cord to get damaged. Apart from bending the cable too much, accidental stepping on or dropping heavy items on the extension cord can render the appliance unsuitable for use.
Using a damaged extension cord, even after a quick fix, is strongly discouraged as it violates the health and safety standards devised by OSHA. It imposes a risk of electrocution as well as a fire on the user.
Extension cords are handy electrical appliances that make our daily life more convenient. They allow the supply of power to multiple devices at a time, even if kept at a distance from the power source. However, if misused, these cords can cause fatal and life-threatening accidents. Hence, it is best to avoid committing the above mentioned common errors in using the extension cord to maximize one’s safety.