When it comes to electricity, there are a wide variety of events that can lead to power surges, fires, and outages. One of the biggest culprits involve the misuse of extension cords. You might not realize this, but extension cords and cables can pose serious risks, especially if they're not used correctly. To help you reduce the risk of electrical hazards, here are three things you need to know about your extension cords and cables.
A Power Strip Is Not a Surge Protector
If you've been using your power strips like surge protectors, you're setting yourself up for an electrical disaster. That's because your average power strips are not surge protectors. A surge protector will have a built-in GFCI switch that will automatically shut off power to the strip at the first hint of an electrical hazard – such as a power surge. Power strips are extension cords that provide multiple slots for your electrical devices.
The problem with using your power strips like surge protectors is that they can overheat, leading to an electrical fire. Not only that, but during a power surge, your strip won't protect your electrical devices against surge damage. This can be devastating if you have your computers plugged into a power strip. When using a power strip, be sure to use one that has a built-in GFCI switch. That way, you get the additional outlets you want and the surge protection you need.
Extension Cables Aren't Intended for Space Heater Use
It's not unusual for homes to develop chilly spots during the winter. If you've decided to use a space heater to take the chill off your home, the last thing you want to do is plug it into your extension cables. This is particularly true if you're going to be keeping your space heater plugged in throughout the night. The additional electricity that needs to be pulled to power your space heater is enough to melt the extension cables. If you're going to use a space heater, either plug it directly into the wall outlet, or into a GFCI-protected power strip.
Never Plug Extension Cables Into Each Other
When you need electrical power in out-of-the-way places, it may be tempting to plug multiple extension cables into each other. Unfortunately, that's a good way to start an electrical fire. Instead of setting yourself up for a fire, choose extension cables that are the right length for the job. It's also important that you give your cables plenty of air. Never cover your extension cables with carpets or rugs. Otherwise, the cables could overheat and lead to a fire.