Safety Resource Library

Electrical Home & Office: Extension Cords Checklist

  • Make sure cords do not dangle from the counter or tabletops where they can be pulled down or tripped over.
  • Use 16-gauge cords that have the listing of a nationally recognized testing laboratory, safety closures, and other safety features.
  • Cover any unused outlets with plastic caps to prevent the chance of a child making contact with the live circuit.
  • Insert plugs fully so that no part of the prongs are exposed when an extension cord is in use.
  • When disconnecting cords, pull the plug rather than the cord itself.
  • Use only three-wire extension cords for appliances with three-prong plugs. Never remove the third (round or U-shaped) prong, which is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk for shock and electrocution.
  • In locations where furniture or beds may be pushed against an extension cord where the cord joins the plug, use a special angle extension cord specifically designed for use in these instances.
  • If the cord feels hot or if there is a softening of the plastic, this is a warning that the plug wires or connections are failing and that the extension cord should be discarded and replaced.
  • Never use an extension cord while it is coiled or looped. Never cover any part of an extension cord with newspapers, clothing, rugs, or any objects while the cord is in use.
  • Never place an extension cord where it is likely to be damaged by heavy furniture or foot traffic.
  • Do not use staples or nails to attach extension cords to a baseboard or to another surface. This could damage the cord and present a shock or fire hazard.
  • Do not overload extension cords by plugging in appliances that draw a total of more watts than the rating of the cord.
  • Use special heavy-duty extension cords for high-wattage appliances such as air conditioners, portable electric heaters and freezers.
  • When using outdoor tools and appliances, use only extension cords labeled for outdoor use.
  • Use polarized extension cords with polarized appliances.

For more information visit the CDC Healthy Housing Manual, Chapter 11 on electricty web page.

This library resource is located in the following industry type(s): ,