Top 5 Safety Tips To Consider While Using Extension Cord

Electrical malfunctions have become common in many homes and workplaces worldwide. These accidents are responsible for millions of dollars in property damage and dozens of human fatalities annually.

Improper usage of electrical components accounts for a significant percentage of all reported electrical faults. Therefore, it’s crucial for every property owner or occupant to familiarize themselves with the safety precautions to follow while using the various electrical parts.

In this article, we look at the top five safety tips when using extension cords. But first, let’s begin by understanding what these components are.

Introducing Extension Cords

An extension cord is a length of flexible electrical power cable designed with a plug on one end and one or multiple sockets on the other end. This electrical component is also known in certain regions (especially the UK and its territories) as an extension cable, extension lead, drop cord, or power extender.

The sockets in an extension cord are typically the same type as the plug. In other words, two-prong cords will equally have two-prong sockets.

Where the sockets and plugs differ, an adapter may connect the cord to the main’s electricity. In this case, the entire cabling system may be called an adapter cord.

Now, power extenders are among the most typical electrical components. It’s impossible to miss these cables in the modern home or office.

But, like most electrical parts, shopping for a high-quality extension cord demands in-depth research and due diligence. Much of that research involves understanding the cord’s specifications to determine its suitability for the appliance you intend to use it with.

Safety Tips While Using Extension Cords

1. Begin With the Right Cord

The most important tip for using extension cords safely is to start by choosing the right cord. And that begs the question – what constitutes the right extension cord?

There are several factors to consider while shopping for an extension cord. They include;


The length of most extension leads ranges from two to thirty feet. However, it’s possible to find cords as long as 300 feet.

The conventional wisdom is to measure the distance between the nearest electrical outlet and the appliance you intend to power. Then, buy a cord that’s slightly longer than you need.

This reduces potential cord damage due to overstretching while also preventing entanglements. 


Gauge refers to the thickness of an extension lead. Thicker cords are more efficient at handling power than their thinner counterparts.

Remember that “thickness” denotes the diameter of the copper wires and not the insulation material.

It’s also worth noting that thicker cords are typically assigned lower gauge values. That means a 10-gauge extension lead has a larger diameter than a 14-gauge one.


The amperage rating of an extension cord is another key consideration while shopping for these electrical fixtures.

Experts recommend choosing a cord rated at least 15 A, which is the amperage rating compatible with most household appliances.

2. Do Not Overload an Extension Cord

Overloading occurs when you plug more electrical appliances into an extension cord than the cable’s maximum current handling capacity. It’s a common problem when using heavy-duty electrical equipment like ovens and water heaters.

Overloading a power extender can cause the wires to heat and melt, presenting risks of fire and explosion. Tell-tale signs include a breaker tripping and shutting off the power supply to the connected appliances.

The best way to not overload your drop cord is to avoid plugging in several heavy-duty pieces of equipment along the same line.

3. Avoid Daisy Chaining

Daisy chaining is an electrical term for plugging several extension cords, power strips, and surge protectors into one another.

Many people daisy-chain to bridge the gap between the nearest power outlet and the electrical appliance that needs powering. But as tempting as it might sound, experts strongly discourage it.

Daisy chaining is a leading cause of electrical explosions and fire hazards. Instead of connecting power extenders, simply purchase a cable of sufficient length.

4. Properly Plug and Unplug the Cord

When plugging an extension cord into a socket, gently do it. Be sure to connect or disconnect the power extender by gently pulling it by the plug. Avoid dragging the cord, which may rip it apart, leading to electric shocks or explosions.

Another best practice when connecting an extension cable is ensuring the plug is moisture-free. That’s for the simple reason that water is an excellent conductor of electricity.

Lastly, only connect the plug to a wall socket matched for the same prong type.

5. Use GFCI Protection

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a feature in many electrical cords designed to protect users from incurring severe electrical shocks.

A GFCI is especially effective at preventing shocks during wet conditions, which explains why it’s a common feature in outdoor extension cables. However, purchasing a drop cord with a GFCI is best regardless of the intended usage environment.

Besides offering shock-proof protection in damp conditions, a GFCI can also detect ground faults and interrupt the flow of electric current accordingly.

Wrap Up

Not only is observing the above safety tips important for your safety. It can also save you thousands of dollars in costly electrical repairs and replacements.