Extension Cord Safety

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

Extension Cord Safety

Power Cord Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Many of those injuries involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from people tripping over extension cords.  This article is about extension cord safety.

Thirteen percent of the injuries involve children under-five years of age; electrical burns to the mouth accounted for half the injuries to young children.

Extension Cord Safety Stats

The CPSC also estimates that about 3,300 residential fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring about 270 others. The most frequent causes of such fires are short circuits, overloading, damage, and/or misuse of extension cords.

Extension cords aren’t all the same: basing your choice of extension cord on each task’s specific requirements, you can greatly reduce the risks of fire, electrical shock, and injury that come with improper use.

Before you plug in your cord:

• For your protection, power cord labels are printed with handy product specs that tell you the cord’s length, size (wire gauge), wattage, and proper usage environment (indoors or outdoors). So before you unwind that cord and hook it up to a power tool, read the label.

• When shopping for extension cords, only purchase those that bear the UL symbol. The presence of the UL mark tells you that samples of that particular type of cord have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories and received consumer safety approval.

• Don’t use damaged extension cords. Extension cords with cut insulation or exposed wires is a shock and fire hazard.

• Take precautions to avoid extension cord trip hazards on the job site. Tape the cords down at doorways or pathways and make sure to use a highly visible cord.

• Do not remove an extension cord’s grounding pin or plug blades to make it easier to plug into an outlet.

• Extended exposure to outdoor elements will cause cords to deteriorate, store all extension cords inside when not in use.

• To avoid potential safety hazards, always remember to unplug extension cords when they’re not in use.


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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