Tips for Safety with Outdoor Extension Cords
Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas… Lots of holidays are coming up, and homeowners love to decorate with outdoor lights and décor! Also, summer projects can sometimes require power outdoors. America’s Best Mechanical & Electrical would like to share some tips with you on electrical extension cords, and how you can keep yourself and your home safe while using them!
Keep extension cords stored properly. When you are done your summer project, or have taken down the devices needing power, make sure that you unplug the extension cords, properly roll or coil them back up as they were when purchased, and hang them somewhere for safe keeping. Before you use the extension cords after storing them for some time, inspect them for any wire exposure or cracks in the insulation around the wires. If either of these are visible, do not use the extension cords, and consider purchasing new ones.
Keep extension cords away from water. If the area outdoors that you are using the extension cords for is a known spot for water or snow accumulation, do not use extension cords in this area. Avoid using them near appliances or other sources that contain water (i.e. ponds, hot tubs, pools, sprinkler systems), as the water could damage the cord and cause electrical fires or damage to your generation source. If you must connect multiple cords, wrap the connection area with electrical tape, to prevent moisture from entering the extension cords. This will also help aide the extension cords in staying attached, which would expose the connections to water and other debris.
Do not over-extend your extension cords. If you’re trying to power multiple appliances, do not use an extension cord. If you are having trouble getting power to an appliance, consider calling a licensed electrician for an estimate to have a new outlet installed professionally and safely. Avoid plugging multi-outlet extension cords into another extension cord. They should be plugged directly into the receptacle with power. When you’re done using them, always wrap them and hang them safely, to avoid frays in the wire or insulation (see photo). This will help you keep your extension cords in order and prevent trips and falls, especially when your temporary power need has vanished.
Keep your extension cords cool. In case you didn’t know, the electricity passing through the extension cords generates heat, which needs to vent in order for the extension cords not to overheat. Keep them uncovered at all times when they are being used (this includes not running them under carpet, through ceilings or through walls). If they begin to feel hot to the touch, unplug them immediately and determine if something is causing the overheating and adjust the surroundings. If you cannot decipher the issue, do not continue using the extension cords.
Extension cords are NOT permanent solutions for power. These extension cords should only be used for temporary power supply (i.e. Christmas lights or powering a tool for yard work). Do not substitute permanent wiring with extension cords. Always consult a licensed electrician if you need additional power or power relocated to another spot in your home or yard. There are always ways to achieve the location of power that you desire. Always install mounted outlets where you need long-term, permanent power. Extension cords may seem easier, but over time, they can become unsafe.
Use bright color extension cords to avoid hazards. Using bright colored extension cords may help you locate them easier, prevent trips and falls over them, and help you see them when they are used outdoors. Many people trip over these daily! The brighter, the better! Aesthetics are less important than your safety!
America’s Best Mechanical & Electrical is a licensed electrician in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have all of the electrical services you need readily available. Contact us for any electrical or mechanical (HVAC) project you may be thinking of!