Preventing Fires – A Quick Guide to Wire Extension Cords
In any given household or office building there are bound to be more extension cords plugged in than the total number of wall sockets. This is solely because of the convenient way to bring power closer to any electrical device. However, they can also be fire hazards and risk fire damage to your property, if not handled properly.
According to the NFPA, there are about 51,000 electrical fires in residential and commercial areas every year. It results in nearly 500 deaths and over 1,500 injuries per annum. In the commercial sector, electrical fires can lead up to $1.3 billion in property damages alone.
To mitigate the potential of fire damage to your property because of electrical fires form, you should practice wire extension safety very closely. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of electrical fires due to wire extensions and how to prevent them.
3 Major Causes of Electrical Fire Damage from Wire Extensions
Faulty Electrical Outlets
A majority of electrical fires are because of a faulty extension, worn-out sockets, or loose connections. As an extension gets older, the heat from outlets wears the plastic in the socket and the wiring behind them. The loose wires could potentially break the connection and give room to a spark; which may eventually lead to fires and fire damage.
Consider repairing or replacing loose wire extensions as soon as possible. Tighten the wire nuts inside the extension to improve the connection once every 6 months.
Worn-Out Electrical Wiring
Outdated electrical wiring in the socket to which you are attaching the wire extension can also lead to loose connections, which may cause an even bigger electrical fire. Older houses may not be able to handle heavy appliances. Consider getting your wiring checked, because such a connection puts all the power load on the extension.
Signs of old electrical wiring include;
- Frequently tripping circuit breaker(s)
- Flickering lights
- Excessively hot wires
- Shocks/sparks from outlet switches
- Burning smells
Just like any other piece of equipment, extension cords have their limits as well. Plugging your computer, phone charger, TV, and speaker system into the same extension can lead to excessive power load on a single socket, thus overheating it and leading to fire.
Keeping Your Property Safe from Fire Damage Caused By Extension Cords
Here are some tips to keep your house safe from extension cords fire damage.
When Selecting an Extension Cord
Make sure you only purchase extension cords that have been tested and approved and choose a cord that is fit for the environment you are going to use it in. For example, there are extension cords designed specifically for outdoor use. Other considerations include;
- Consider the power it draws and its capacity
- Select the cord based on its rating. This rating shows how much wattage it can handle.
- Consider the wire gauge, which indicates the wire size. Smaller gauges can handle heavier loads.
- Longer cords can’t handle as much current as shorter cords can, so consider the length of your extension cord.
- Use low-gauge, thick, fused extension cords for appliances.
When Using An Extension Cord
The most important consideration you need to make when it comes to preventing fire damage from using extension cords is to distribute the load. Overloaded extension cords are one of the most common reasons for electrical fires.
Other considerations include;
- Do not remove the extension cord’s grounding pin
- Do not power multiple heavy appliances with a single cord
- Use indoor extension cords for indoor purposes only
- Avoid running extension cords under rugs or furniture.
- Don’t plug extension cords into the floor or wall
- Avoid bending extension cord wire when in use
- If the extension cord gets too hot, avoid using it immediately unless diagnosed.
- Make sure the extension cord is visible at all times and away from clothes, wood, or other material that can catch fire.
- Make sure the extension cord is not being covered and there is sufficient airflow around it. This ensures that the heat gets dissipated properly.
- Keep children away from extension cords.
When Storing Extension Cords
To prevent fire damage from extension cords, you also need to keep in mind where and how you store them. Make a point of storing the cords indoors and in a cool, dry place to avoid any damage. Furthermore;
- If an extension cord is not in use, turn it off or unplug it.
- If there is a damaged cord, immediately get it replaced.
- When disconnecting the extension cord, pull the plug, not the wire.
It is important to keep in mind that extension cords are a temporary wiring solution; not a permanent one. If you use extension cords too often, make sure they are fused and when possible, try to update your home’s electrical system to prevent fire damage.
Fire damage from electrical fires is extremely dangerous because of the high temperature they can achieve – almost instantly. Where normal fire starts at 752°F (400°C), electrical fires can instantly reach 2,400°F (1,316°C).
If you need further assistance, home restoration companies such as 911 Restoration in Ventura County can help you understand potential fire risks and help you avoid them. We are also here to help you recover from fire damage 24/7, 365 days a year. Give us a call and let us help you lead a safer life!