Extension Cords: Injuries and Misuse

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Chances are you have extensions cords in your home office or den, ensuring power to the computer, monitor, printer and other technology devices that keep you connected to the outside world. You may have extension cords in your living room to connect all components of your entertainment system. Perhaps you have outdoor projects planned, and have some extension cords running from a garage outlet to behind the house so you can use that power sprayer, weed-removing tool or other outdoor equipment. Extension cords are handy when used temporarily. They provide us what we need for a project. Extension cords are not intended to be used permanently, however. Yet, many consumers use them as part of their normal daily power source.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), extension cords are the cause of 3,300 residential fires annually, and account for close to 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Extension cords are used to connect many appliances, and can easily be overloaded and heated. Many are not able to handle the amount of electric current passing through them, and should never be used to compensate for inadequate home wiring. When you do need to use an extension cord, how can you make sure that you are using one safely to avoid an injury or fire?

Extension cords should not be used for long periods of time. When that happens, their use becomes commonplace instead of the resident finding a permanent solution to an electrical problem. When you do need to use one, here are some ways to make sure extension cords are used safely in your home:

  • Never substitute an extension cord for a permanent power source in your home.
  • Keep extension cords away from children and pets. Burns to the mouth account for “half the extension cord related injuries involving young children,” according to the CPSC.
  • Extension cords should be certified by an independent testing lab.
  • Check that power outlets are not overloaded with several cords.
  • If the cord ever feels hot, unplug it and stop using it immediately.
  • Never cover up a cord with a rug, blanket or piece of furniture. The confined space could cause it to become overheated.
  • Replace any extension cords that are cracked or worn. If you need to throw one away, be sure it is unplugged and cooled. Cut it with wire cutters before disposing. That way, no one can reuse the faulty cord.
  • Make sure the extension cords are not dangling from counters or tabletops where they can easily be tripped over.
  • Insert the plug into the outlet fully, so that no parts of the prongs are exposed.

Extension cords are useful when temporary power sources are needed. If you have been injured by a burn from an extension cord, or experienced fire or damage in your home as a result of using an extension cord, there may be a full investigation to find out why the fire started or what caused the injury. When you enlist the assistance of experts known for settling personal injury and electrical injury cases, you will find relief in knowing you have the support and knowledge of a reputable New York law firm on your side.