WINNIPEG — Experts are warning about the dangers of using an extension cord, after a house fire destroyed a home in Kleefeld over the weekend.
Investigators on site determined the cause of the Sunday fire to be an extension cord malfunction in the garage, which sparked a fire.
“Extension cords are never to be used on a permanent basis,” Fire Investigator Ken Swan said.
Investigators said the cord was plugged into a freezer full-time. A family of 15 is now searching for a new home, after the fire spread into the house.
Even with a proper gauge of power, Swan said extensions cords are extremely dangerous.
“They’re very very commonly abused, they’re a real problem.”
According to electricians in Winnipeg, there are three extension cords people have the option to choose from.
“On the back of boxes it has the gauges, and what it’s good for,” Chuck Lewis with Mr. Electric said.
A 16 gauge cord can handle temporary loads from something like a speaker system or a TV. Lewis said it’s important not to leave this cord unattended too long.
“If you use an extension cord like this, or any other cord, if it’s misused it could start a fire in a couple of hours.”
14 gauge cords are suitable for powering hair dryer’s or small heaters, Lewis said.
For plugging in a car, or freezer, a 12 gauge cord is suggested.
The length of a cord is also something to think about while buying an extension cord according to Lewis.
“The longer you have, the more resistance, the more chance of heating up. So you want to try and lower down the length.”
Fire officials said it’s important to take careful steps when making the purchase. Swan said he gets called to a house fire at least once a week, that was caused by an extension cord.
“People don’t understand, they can be avoided.”
Manitoba Hydro posted useful tips to their website to avoid fires caused by extension cords:
- Keep the cord fully extended while in use to avoid danger of overheating.
- Don’t use any extension cord set or electrical tool in the rain or when you are barefoot in wet grass or on any wet surface.
- Do not hang cords over nails, beams, or pipes. This puts stress on the cord jacket.
- Inspect the cord. If it is damaged, don’t use it and don’t try to fix it yourself. Take it to a qualified service centre for repair or replace it.
- Keep outdoor wall receptacle covers closed when not in use.
- Extension cords should be used only as a temporary connection. If permanent wiring is required, have additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician.
- Extension cords should not be linked together, instead use an extension cord that is long enough to do the job.