Plug into Extension Cord Safety this season

According to findings from a new consumer survey conducted by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), more than 70 percent of people who plan to decorate their homes for the holiday will use at least one extension cord.

Extension cords offer a convenient way to connect electrical equipment that otherwise cannot reach a wall outlet. However, continual use can cause the insulation to rapidly deteriorate, creating a dangerous shock and fire hazard.

An estimated 3,300 residential fires originate from extension cords each year, killing and injuring more than 300 people, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Extension cords are meant to give a temporary solution and should never be used as a long-term or permanent electrical circuit,” cautions ESFI president Brett Brenner. “Proper selection, use, and maintenance of extension cords are critical to avoiding injuries and fires.”

Extension cord safety is a concern year-round, but use of these devices is often more prominent during the holidays, as a result of the increased use of electric lights and decorations. Following a few simple safety guidelines can prevent potentially dangerous mistakes with extension cords this holiday season:

  • Purchase cords from authorized retailers. Never use an extension cord that does not carry the certification label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use—indoor or outdoor—and meet or exceed the power needs of the device being used.
  • Examine extension cords before each use. Cracked, frayed, or otherwise damaged cords should be replaced immediately.
  • Do not place extension cords in high traffic areas, under carpets, or across walkways where they pose a tripping hazard.
  • Never use a cord that feels hot or is damaged in any way. Touching even a single exposed strand can result in an electric shock or burn.
  • Do not run extension cords through walls, or across doorways, ceilings, and floors. This may cause the cord to overheat, creating a serious fire hazard.
  • When working outdoors, use only weather-resistant, heavy-gauge extension cords marked for outdoor use.
  • Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strands clear of snow and standing water, and well protected from the elements.

Source:  Electric Safety Foundation International.Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website,, throughout the holiday season for all the safety tips and tools you need to Make Safety a Tradition for your family.

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