Extension cords are a common household item, but they can be dangerous if not used correctly. Experts warn that extension cords can cause fires if they are not properly rated for the electrical current they are carrying. They also advise against using extension cords for appliances that generate heat, such as space heaters and coffeemakers.
In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that the misuse of extension cords is one of the common reasons for residential fires.
Practical Tips to Avoid a Fire Caused by Extension Cords
1. Unplug the extension cord when not in use.
This is the best way to avoid a fire in your home. Some homeowners tend to leave cords plugged in, thinking they will only be using them for a short time. But if an appliance or tool overheats, it can start a fire.
2. Avoid overloading extension cords.
Extension cords are designed for short periods. If you need to use an extension cord for an extended time, it is best to use properly rated ones for the electrical current they will be carrying.
3. Never use damaged extension cords.
If an extension cord is damaged, it can easily start a fire. So always check for damage before using one and replace any damaged cords.
4. Keep extension cords out of the way.
You must keep your extension cords away from heaters, furnaces, and other appliances that generate heat. They can quickly start a fire if they are near these heat sources.
5. Never run extension cords under rugs.
This is another way to create a fire hazard. Extension cords should be kept in plain sight so that you can easily see if they are damaged.
6. Store extension cords in a dry place.
Extension cords should be stored in a dry place when not in use. If they get wet, they can easily start a fire.
7. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Each extension cord has its own set of instructions, and it’s essential to follow these directions to avoid a house fire.
What to Do If a Fire Occurs
Get Out and Call 911
Get out of your home if a fire starts and call 911 immediately. Avoid trying to fight the fire yourself, especially if it’s vast. It’s always safe to leave it to the firefighters.
There are three classes of fire: A, B, and C. Class A fires are the easiest to put out and require water. Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gasses and should be put out with a dry chemical extinguisher. Class C fires are electrical and should be put out with a CO2 extinguisher.
If an extension cord causes fire, avoid using water to stop it. Water can cause the electrical current to spread, leading to serious injuries or even death.
Smother the Fire
If the fire is small enough, try to smother it with a blanket or towel. This will work best on paper or trash fires.
Use an Extinguisher
If the fire is pretty extensive, you need to use an extinguisher if you can put it out. You must aim it at the base of the fire and discharge it until the fire is out. Read the instructions on the extinguisher before using it.
Document Any Damage
After the fire is out, remember to document the damage. This is helpful when you make an insurance claim. Take pictures of the damage and make a list of any items that were destroyed in the fire.
Like water damage, fire damage can cause problems down the road if not taken care of immediately. So you should take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage. See more here about how restoration companies help you clean up and restore your damaged property.
Call your Insurance Company
Once the fire is out and you have documented the damage, it’s time to call your insurance company. They will help you through the process of filing a claim and getting your home back to normal.
Call a Restoration Company
If the fire has damaged your home, you need to call a property restoration company. They help you clean up the damage and get your home back to its original condition.
Extension cords are a quick fix to bring electricity to hard-to-reach places. However, they can also be a fire hazard if not used properly. Ensure to follow the tips above to avoid a house fire.
If a fire occurs, get out and call 911 immediately. Never try to fight the fire if it’s too large. If you must extinguish the fire, avoid using water. On top of these, call your insurance company and a restoration professional to help with the damage.