Extension cords are everywhere in our daily lives, at home and on the job. In fact, in certain job environments like construction and the entertainment industry, heavy duty extension cords are essential tools in their own right.
The proper use of these essential cords is critical to safety. Keep in mind that extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. When an extension cord is required, it’s important to use one designed for your application. For example, outdoor-rated cords have insulation that protects against moisture, sunlight and abrasion while cold weather-rated cords have special jacket properties that allow their use in the extreme cold.
Use these extension cord safety tips to keep you and your crew safe around electricity on the job site and at the shop.
- Never use indoor-rated cords for outdoor applications.
- Never remove an extension cord ground pin in order to fit it into a two-prong outlet.
- Never force a plug into the wrong kind of outlet or modify the plug's blades to fit any outlet.
- Never use an extension cord that has a lower wattage rating than the tool being used with it.
- Do not run an extension cord through walls or ceilings; it can overheat and create a fire hazard.
- Never tape extension cords to floors or attach them to surfaces with staples or nails.
- Stop using extension cords that feel hot to the touch.
Choose the right cord for the job.
Always confirm that the cord has a higher wattage rating than the tool, equipment or appliance being used with it. A cord’s wattage rating, or the amount of electricity it can safely carry, is provided either in watts or in amps and volts. (amps x volts = watts.) The cord’s wattage rating must be greater than the tool’s power requirement, which should be listed on the tool. If you plan to plug multiple tools into a cord with a triple tap connector, add their wattages together to make sure the total isn't more than the cord’s rating.