Having an extension cord in your house is always handy. If you need something plugged in and the cord doesn’t reach the outlet, an extension cord is the answer. But some people get a little carried away with this approach. Plugging extension cord into extension, they plug too many things into it at once, and this is becoming an ongoing problem for fire departments across the country. All it takes is this one extension cord mistake and things can go wrong really fast.
Most extension cords have multiple outlets – sometimes as many as 8, but that doesn’t mean that you should be utilizing all of them at the same time. Think about it – if you have six outlets on an extension cord, and you use all of them, all that electricity is going into the main outlet it is plugged into. You run the risk of blowing the fuse if the circuit breaker trips. Not only that, but you also run the risk of starting a house fire.
With the winter season finally here, fire departments across America are issuing a warning about the proper use of extension cords, and crucially what not do do with them.
First of all, there is a common mistake when comparing extension cords and power strips to surge protectors. Many people don’t realize that they’re not the same as a surge protector. If a surge protector gets overloaded, it will automatically cut off the power. With a power strip or extension cord, it won’t cut the power, which is why the circuit trips or the fuse blows.
When people buy a power strip, they think that because there are a lot of sockets, it can take anything you plug in. There is a limit to how much it can take. Each device that you plug into it uses a different amount of electricity. So if you plug the wrong thing into it, it can be very costly. It can even cost you your life.
So if you need to run multiple appliances from the same outlet, be sure to invest in a surge protector – it might cost a few dollars more, but the difference could save your life.
With winter well and truly here, the temperatures are dropping day to day. the first thing people will do is crank up the heat. But if you do not own a fireplace or have central heating, the next best thing is a space heater. If you’re in a small room, a space heater will warm up the room in very little time.
As effective as they are, space heaters can also be very dangerous, in that they can potentially heat up another thing, the extension cord. The one extension cord mistake that people make with a space heater is plugging it into a power strip. Power strips are not meant to handle space heaters, so use a surge protector instead.
This issue around space heaters and extension cords has become so common that the Umatilla County Fire District in Oregon issued a country-wide public service announcement on their Facebook page. The announcement outlined the consequences of plugging a space heater into a power strip. They mentioned that power strips are unable to handle the flow needed for a space heater. They also said that it can overheat or even catch fire.
Rachel Rothman, who is the chief technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute, added that people should never plug any other devices into the same outlet as a space heater. If it can overheat on its own, what do you think will happen if there are other devices generating flow?
The National Safety Fire Administration mentioned that about half of heating home fires occur in December, January and February. According to them, from 2009 to 2013, heating equipment accounted for 56,000 of the home fires. One helpful tip would be to ensure that all your smoke alarms are up to code. Also, if you’re using a space heater, make sure that the cord is not damaged.
So, in summary, get yourself down to a reputable electronics dealer and pick up some surge protectors!