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Extension Cord Safety

When the three words – extension cord safety – are combined, we usually think about the trip and fall hazards. But there is more to think about when considering extension cord safety.
In fact, not being mindful of the safe and correct use of extension cords can lead to fires and electrocution.

extension cordFor example, staples or nails that are used to attach electrical cords to a wall can, over time, wear away and break through the protective rubber covering that insulates and separates the inside wires. If the metal attachment bridges the gap between the positive and negative wires, electrocution and a spark of electricity may result. If the cord is in an enclosed space near volatile fumes or is attached to a flammable material, the spark could ignite a fire. Even if it does not bridge the two conducting currents, but wears away the insulation, excessive heat can build up inside the cord and cause spark or fire.

Running electrical cords through doorways or windows is also dangerous. When doors or windows are closed, the cord can be pinched, damaging the insulated covering and either wearing away the protective covering or damaging it so that excessive heat builds up or the wires inside are connected and spark a fire.

Electrical cords are manufactured for inside or outside use. Cords made for indoor use are not designed to endure extreme outdoor cold, ice, water or heat. These environmental conditions deteriorate the protective insulating material and can cause it to crack and break. Before using a cord inside a building or outside, check the label on the cord or the packaging that it was in to determine whether it is an indoor or outdoor cord.

Overloading an extension cord with plugged-in equipment can cause it to overheat and melt the protective insulation, and catch fire. Electrical cords are designed to allow a certain amount of electricity (usually expressed in amps or amperage) through the cord. Check the tag on the cord or the packaging from the location where it was purchased to determine the cord’s maximum amperage rating.

Finally, if an extension cord is being used improperly, whether stapled or nailed to a wall, used outside when it should only be inside, or it appears damaged and worn, immediately remove it from service and replace it.

Neff Rental practices safe use of extension cords in its branches coast to coast. For more information about Neff Rental, visit, or call 888-709-NEFF.

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