Using extension cords properly is critical to your safety, says the Electrical Safety Foundation International (, which recommends the following tips:

  • Use extension cords on a temporary basis, not as permanent wiring.
  • Never run any electrical cord under a carpet. If the cord is covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in a fire hazard.
  • Do not hang or drape electrical cords or wires over radiators or other metal objects.
  • Do not use extension cords that are cut or damaged. Touching even a single strand can give you an electric shock or burn.
  • Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots for the plug. Don’t cut off the grounding pin to force a fit. This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock. Also, never force a plug into an outlet if it doesn’t fit.
  • A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) can be plugged into an outlet to protect against electrical shock. GFCIs are products designed to prevent serious injury or death from electrical shock by detecting ground faults at very low levels. GFCIs should be used in any area where water may come into contact with electrical products.
  • Do not pull a plug from a wall outlet by the cord. Grasp the plug and pull it straight out.
  • To prevent overheating, make sure the cord is large enough to carry the electricity necessary to operate the tool or appliance. Heavy duty extension cords should be used with portable tools and other heavy duty appliances – never ordinary lamp cords.
  • Never nail or staple any type of electrical cord.