Stringing Up Some Decorative Lights? Don't Forget These Extension Cord Safety Precautions

Posted on: 3 December 2014

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Do you like holiday lighting? Bright, colored lights are synonymous with celebrations, but the extension cords used during their installation can cause electrical fires or shock if not properly installed.  Here are some tips and precautions to help you select and use your extension cables safely:

Selection Tips

Determine where you are going to use an extension cable. This is because the cords are designed to withstand different risks. For example, cords marked for outdoor use are more robust and rugged than indoor wires.

Secondly, you should know how much power you are planning to draw and select an appropriately rated cord. Just because a multi-outlet cord has five outlets doesn't mean that you can plug any of your five electrical appliances in it. What if it is rated as 13 amperes, but five items draw a total of 15 amperes? Determine the rating of the appliances and select a cable with a slightly higher rating.

The other thing to consider is the length of the cord. Stretching or extending an electrical cable can easily snap it, or it can even damage the cable's insulation. Remember that your cable may not run in a straight line due to obstacles, so you should factor in all that when estimating the required length.

Usage Precautions

Avoid high traffic areas when installing power cables. It is easy to get your feet entangled with the cords and fall, or even cause a crash some light bulbs. Also avoid placing them under chairs or rugs. In the former case, the cable might heat up and cause a fire outbreak, and in the latter case, you may drag the cable when moving the chair.

Don't make a habit of nailing or stapling cables on baseboards or cables. It is risky, even if you have gotten away with it in the past. You risk puncturing the inner insulation and touching a hot wire with the nail. If that happens, then anybody who touches the nail afterwards may be electrocuted.

Another common habit, which is also dangerous, is that of removing the grounding pin in order to insert a two-pronged outlet. Doing that means that you are using an appliance that should be grounded without the safety of the grounding wire. In case of an electrical short, you may be injured when current tries to flow through your body to the ground.

You have no business installing your own electrical wiring if you don't have the knowledge to take the necessary precautions. You may be doing it to save money, but you will just be exposing your household to the risk of electrical fire. Contact an electrician, like those at Alpine Electrical Construction LLC, for additional information or help.