If you have begun using extension cords to power items on a permanent basis, then you should probably think about having outlets installed in these areas instead. Although they may not seem to be dangerous, using extension cords in this way can be very hazardous.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that you “use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary basis”, and attributes around 3,300 residential fires to extension cords each year. As a result of this danger, many local building codes actually prohibit the permanent use of extension cords in homes and businesses.
The Hazards of Extension Cords
One of the greatest dangers of using extension cords in your home or business is that they pose a great tripping hazard. If people are not tripping over them, then it is very likely that they are being trod on. Being walked on will wear out your extension cords, eventually causing them to deteriorate. Extension cords used outdoors can wear as a result of sun and weather exposure.
Damaged cords frequently lead to short circuits. Short circuits can cause the wires within to overheat, which can lead to shock and fire. In order to avoid tripping, many people hide their extension cords under rugs. Unfortunately, this only heightens the risk because these cords are more likely to be walked on. The rug can also help to increase the danger of fire.
If you are using an extension cord with multiple outlets and appliances plugged into it, you are in danger of overloading the cord, which can lead to overheating.
How to Fix It
One of the quickest ways to solve this problem is to use a power strip. These are available with cords ranging from 2 to 12 feet long. One thing to look for in a power strip is a circuit breaker. This will help to monitor the power flowing through the strip, shutting off the power in the event of a power problem. This can greatly reduce the chances of overheating and overloading.
Depending on how long the cord is you will still run the risk of tripping with a power strip. There is also no good way to test the circuit breaker for proper function. The safest solution to this problem is to add outlets in areas that you need them. To talk about adding outlets or any other electrical questions that you may have, please call and ask for our in-house electrician.