Three Things You Need To Know About Extension Cord Safety

Now that autumn is in full swing and the holidays are on the horizon, homeowners are beginning to decorate both the inside and outside of their homes to match the spirit of the season. This often means using extension cords for things like exterior lighting, but many people also use extension cords indoors, but this isn't always the best practice. Extension cords are meant to be used temporarily instead of acting as solutions for inadequate household electrical wiring. Following are three extension cord safety tips that you need to know.

Inspect Extension Cords Thoroughly Before Using

Whether the extension cord you're about to use is new or an old standby that comes out of the drawer every year for seasonal use, be sure to inspect it thoroughly before plugging it in. Look for cracks, loose or frayed wires, and loose connections, and replace any cords that show these obvious signs of damage. Check all cords periodically after you plug them in to make sure they don't feel hot to the touch -- if they do, discontinue their use immediately.

Use the Right Cord for the Job

Don't use an indoor cord to do an outdoor job. If you're placing holiday lights on and around your home, be sure to use a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord designed to stand up to outdoor weather conditions and heavy usage. You should never allow outdoor extension cords to lie in standing water or snow. Look for the wattage rating on the object that you're planning to power with an extension cord and use a cord with the same or higher wattage rating. You should also never use an extension cord to power space heaters.

Always Purchase Quality Cords

Extension cords and other electrical products aren't the place to cut costs. Faulty electrical products have been on the market for years and are usually available from dollar stores and other discount retailers. Even when you buy an extension cord from a reputable home and garden retailer or other trusted outlet, always make sure that the cord has been approved by a testing lab such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Approved products will carry the UL's trademark red log consisting of the initials UL inside a circle.

If you find yourself using extension cords indoors on a regular basis, that's probably a sign that you need to contact your local electrician to determine whether your home's electrical system needs an upgrade.