Extension Cords – Surprisingly Hazardous

If your home or business depends on the use of extension cords for more than a temporary fix, you might want to consider adding a new outlet to your electrical system instead. Extension cords are surprisingly hazardous.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that about 3,300 residential fires originate with these cords each year. The CPSC website recommends, “Use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary basis.” Many local building codes have made permanent use of these cords illegal in homes and businesses.

Why Extension Cords Are Hazardous?

One trouble with extension cords is that they’re often in the way. People can trip over them. Or possibly even worse, walk on them. Walking on a cord can damage it. This isn’t the only way the cord can be damaged. If used outside, it can deteriorate due to exposure to the sun.

If the cord is damaged, it can create a short circuit, which can result in overloading and overheating of the wires inside and possibly a fire. The hazard can be heightened if an indoor cord has been tucked under a rug to prevent tripping. Under the rug, the cord can be damaged by being trod on, but the damage is hidden. And the rug only adds to the fire hazard.

Extension cords that provide more than one outlet and allow more than one appliance to be plugged in create another hazard. They can allow overloading of the wires in the cord and overheating.


A power strip is a safety improvement over an extension cord. Power cords run from a couple of feet up to 12 feet. If you use a power strip, make sure that it is equipped with a circuit breaker. If damage to the cord results in a short circuit or if too many appliances are plugged in, the resulting power overloading will shut off power to the cord. This eliminates the problem of overheating and fire hazard.

Of course, with the power cord, there is still the tripping issue, and over time, the circuit breaker can deteriorate without giving any sign. Adding a conveniently located outlet is a safer solution. If you would like to look into an additional outlet or other modifications to your electrical system, please give like those at [sc:company] a call, and we will be happy to give you a free estimate.