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Extension cord safety tips

Mike Stone sent us some additional electric tips for using extension cords after reading “Outdoor Chores” (March 2019). He says he taught industrial arts for 34 years and also taught electricity to high school students. He was a licensed, master electrician for 20 years. His letter with excellent suggestions follows:

Do not run extension cords through windows or doors. There is the potential for damage to the cord where it passes through the opening.

Extension cords can be the source of problems and danger when using portable electric powered equipment, particularly when outside, due to potentially damp conditions.

Make sure each end of the cord is in good condition. The cord must be plugged tightly into the receptacle and the power tool must plug firmly into the cord, otherwise erratic operation can result and/or heat can be generated at the connection. 

Always use an extension cord of the proper gauge (diameter) for the tool being used. Instruction sheets for portable electric tools list the specific required gauge, based on the power requirement and length of cord.

Use a three-prong (grounded) extension cord when operating equipment with a three-prong plug. Do not use an extension cord with a broken or missing ground (middle) prong. 

When coiling an extension cord for storage, coil it into a loop. Do not wind it around your hand and elbow (like a rope) because it will cause the individual wires within the cable to twist and eventually the cord will become difficult to coil.

Replace the extension cord or replace the cord end when either end of the cord is damaged.

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