Safe Extension Cord Use to Prevent Fires

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHoliday fire safety starts with proper use of extension cords. Remember that these cords were meant to extend the range of a power outlet, not increase it. Here’s some tips for safe use of electrical cords this holiday season.

Keep the plug in part out of the tree. Even on a new cord it is not unheard of for there to be problems in the plug that result in flames. Quickly unplugging the cord solves that but if it’s ignited the tree there’s a much bigger problem to deal with.

Don’t run cords underneath rugs. Many people do this for safety reasons to keep the cord from tripping people, but it’s surprising how much some of these cords can heat up. Always thoroughly check the cord before plugging it in for nicks and places where the insulation is cut through a bare wire can increase the chances of fire. Holiday fire safety begins with safe equipment.

Because of small things likely to escalate around the tree this time of year have a properly charged ABC fire extinguisher near the tree in case there is a problem. Hopefully this won’t be needed but if it is this can save steps and precious time. A good holiday fire safety plan includes the “what if” and takes steps to insure a safe season for all.

Use caution running cords through doorways where they can be crimped better yet don’t do it! Not only can this create a problem but a cord can short and anyone stepping on it and the wet ground or snow can be in for an unpleasant jolt. While many think of holiday fire safety it’s easy to forget there are other safety issues also. For this reason keep cords from sitting in puddles, snow and ice.

Many use electrical cords for lights and lights on the tree but there are many who use outdoor cords also. Make sure that you use a cord heavy enough for the job. A light household cord that is overloaded in an outdoor situation can heat up. Holiday fire safety is always something to take seriously.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you add strings of outdoor lights many people also use timers and other gadgets to increase the efficiency and operation of the display. Keep these things protected as well as your cords and use only those products rated to be used outdoors. If you use more than one cord you might consider whether it’s better to install an outdoor outlet next year which not only makes things easier but increases your holiday fire safety plan.

Use caution running extension cords near or over baseboard or other heaters. These cords are not meant to withstand the heat these appliances give out. Uncoil cords to help prevent heat from building up in one area. Never take short cuts using a grounded plug in a two prong adapter. The ground wire is there for a good reason!

While we hear about recalls of vehicles and other items we often don’t hear about recalls involving electrical cords and power strips. Recalls can be issued for over a million cords but if you don’t hear about it and aren’t aware of it you can be using it. Holiday fire safety isn’t often thought of as searching for recalls of anything but toys and child restraint seats it seems, but that defective cord could be a means of incredible loss.

Watch for wear around the “plug in” part of the cord that can be weakened with repeated pulling it from the socket. If it is broken or worn through replace it. Even a $10 cord is much cheaper than replacing your home or losing a family member due to a fire especially at the holiday season.

Tragedy doesn’t take holidays and neither should holiday fire safety. Be alert, be safety minded and use electricity and electrical cords safely. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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