How to Use Extension Cords Safely

Nov 15, 2019

Extension cords can be super-convenient, especially during the holiday season. But improper usage or placement can result in electrical fires, dangerous shocks, or ruined tools, electronics and appliances. Here are a few basic extension cord safety tips:

  • Keep cords away from heat sources or water
  • Unroll cords instead of keeping them coiled during use
  • Outdoor applications require cords labelled for outdoor use
  • Disconnect cords by pulling on the plug (instead of the cord)
  • Do not break off the third prong of plug
  • Do not connect multiple cords to one another

Extension Cord Gauge and Amperage

Together, wire size and the amperage drawn by the electrical tools determine the amount of electricity that a cord can safely manage. Gauge describes the wire size, and it will appear on extension cord packaging along with maximum amperage load. Electrical appliances, lamps and tools should have a label that states the amperage or amps that they need. For example, a table saw that uses 15 amps must have an extension cord that can handle 15 amps.

A cord unable to accommodate an electrical motor’s amperage could cause a fire or damage an electric motor. In addition to selecting the proper cord gauge, use the shortest cord possible for your application. Electricity transfer diminishes as cord length increases.

Additional Considerations

Regularly check cords for damage, like fraying cord coverings or blackening or melting around the plugs. Replace damaged cords to avoid exposure to electricity.

Cords should not be placed so that they go through ceilings, doors or walls. Do not cover them with rugs.

Although extension cords are very convenient, they are not intended for permanent wiring solutions. In the Vancouver area, you can consult the licensed electricians from AJ’s Electrical Service & Repair to avoid relying on inappropriate extension cord placement. We can determine the best approaches for wiring something safely and permanently.


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