Plugging Along

A common tool used in the field, in the shop, and in the office is the extension cord. We should consider potential issues arising from the use of extension cords before we plug one up and go about our way with the task at hand. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 4,000 injuries due to electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. Half of these involve fractures, lacerations, contusions, or sprains from extension cords that are tripped over. Never leave extension cords in walkways. Always remove cords from being tripping hazards.

U.S. CPSC estimates 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.

The most important things to remember are:

  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. 
  • Know your extension cord’s purpose and rated capacity before use.
  • Only grounded extension cords are to be used with power tools unless the tool is double insulated.
  • “Indoor” for indoor use only, and “outdoor” for use inside or out.
  • Construction and maintenance areas require extension cords which are specified by the National Electric Code for hard usage or extra hard usage. Approved cords may be identified by the word "outdoor" or the letters "WA" on the jacket.
  • Duct tape fixes just about anything - except extension cords! 

For more information check out this edition of the Wachs Weekly!