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An extension cord comes in handy when your wall outlet isn’t located near the lights or appliances you want to plug in. Still, more than 2,000 people a year wind up in hospital emergency rooms after being burned, shocked or tripped by an extension cord. Use extension cords safely. Here’s how: 

  • Use extension cords as a temporary fix, not a permanent solution. They’re not designed for large loads or extended use.
  • Extension cords are meant to lengthen an appliance cord, not as an extra outlet.
  • Choose extension cords that have the approval of a national testing agency like Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Choose polarized extension cords only. On them, one prong is wider than the other, which prevents you from inserting the plug backward.
  • Don’t string extension cords together.
  • Throw away old, cracked or frayed extension cords. There’s no way to repair them, and they can start a fire.
  • Keep extension cords out from under rugs, where they can overheat and get trampled on.
  • Untangle your extension cord before plugging it in. A coiled or looped cord can overheat.
  • Never use nails or staples to attach an extension cord to a wall. You might damage the cord and shock yourself.


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