Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In Wake of Manhattan Fires, ESFI Emphasizes Power Strip Safety

Two Manhattan fires that occurred on Aug. 17 and 18 have prompted the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to release an advisory regarding the dangers of overtaxed circuits
and improper power cord use. The fires left one person dead and another severely burned. Both are being blamed on overloaded power strips.

ESFI offers these tips for safely using power strips and cords:

Power Strips

  • Do not overload a circuit. Know the circuit’s capacity and the power requirements of all items plugged into the power strip and into all the other outlets on the circuit, as well as any light fixtures on the circuit.
  • Heavy reliance on power strips is an indication of an inadequate number of outlets to address power requirements. Have additional outlets installed if needed.
  • A surge suppressor only protect the items plugged into the supressor, not back along the circuit into which it is connected.
  • Plug multiple plug outlets directly into mounted electrical receptacles; do not chain them together.
  • Ensure that all power strips and extension cords are certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Power Cord Safety

  • Use extension cords on a temporary basis only; unplug and safely store them after every use.
  • Do not place power cords and extension cords in high-traffic areas or under carpets, rugs or furniture, and never nail or staple them to a wall or baseboard.
  • Never remove the ground pin (the third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-prong outlet.
  • Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or tool being used.
  • Keep all electrical items and extension cords in good condition. If an item is damaged, repair the item or dispose of it.