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What should you know about safe extension cord use?

Like many Schenectady residents, you may have a few extension cords lying around your house. You could be using one or more at this very moment. With summer temperatures looming, an extension cord could be a lifesaver if you want to get your portable fan in just the right spot. These cords are convenient and handy, but can also cause serious or deadly hazards if they are used wrong or are defective.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, thousands of people are injured each year in accidents related to extension cords. About half of these are injuries caused by tripping over a cord. Extension cords can also cause fires or electrocutions. The ESFI has provided the following tips on proper extension cord use:

  • Inspect an extension cord for signs of damage or defects before use, especially if it is brand-new or has been in storage for some time.
  • Do not use a cord that sparks or feels hot after being plugged in.
  • Never thread an extension cord inside your walls or ceiling. This can cause a fire.
  • Be sure that the cord is placed out of the way so it won’t be tripped on.
  • Understand that extension cords are not intended for long-term use.

Additionally, it is wise to check that the cord has been certified by a known, reputable testing laboratory. UL is one of the best-known and most trusted sources, as are CSA and ETL. Many cords will have a variation of the wording “UL-tested” on the packaging.

When it comes to electrical safety, you are usually expected to use common sense, understand safety rules and use the product only in the manner for which it was designed. However, there is always the chance of a faulty or poorly-designed product making it into your hands, in which case the liability may fall to the manufacturer.

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