Electrical Safety

What size extension cords should you use? How can you tell if an extension cord is appropriate for the intended use?

Before purchasing an extension cord, you should consider how the cord will be used. Make sure the rating on the cord is the same as or higher than the number of watts needed by the product that will be plugged into the cord. Extension cords should never be used as a substitute for permanent wiring.

How can you protect yourself from electricity-related injuries?

You should check for problems in your home electrical systems.

  • Check outlets and extension cords to make sure they are not overloaded.
  • Examine electrical cords to make sure they are not frayed, damaged or placed under rugs or carpets.
  • Make sure that the proper wattage light bulbs are being used in light fixtures and lamps.
  • Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
  • One of the most important precautions you can take is to test your smoke detectors and to replace smoke detector batteries annually.
  • you should always follow appropriate safety precautions and manufacturer’s instructions.

Preventive Electrical Maintenance

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Whey buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International