5 Power Strip Safety Tips For Your Family
Electricity is perhaps the greatest invention of humankind. Cell phones, home assistants, digital locks, security systems, hair stylers, hand blender, juicers, soup kettles, room heater, and the list of electric appliances seems endless and is ever-evolving. They make our work easy and save time. For many of us, life seems impossible without the various gadgets that we have.
Not many of these work on a battery; they require an electric power supply. But we quickly run out of sockets to plug them in. And, in such situations, the power strips are handy. Power strips are an array of electrical sockets with a long wire and a plug for connection. The devices are convenient to use, but a frequent mistake is connecting too many applications or using high voltage consuming ones. One has to be careful as these do not withstand electricity surges and are the most common cause of fire accidents at home. Below we list down the safety measures one has to take while using a power strip at home.
1. Know the rating of the power strip:
A standard power strip comes with a series of specifications that include amps, voltage, frequency, and wattage. Every electric appliance that we use also have their power consumption in terms of watts. So while using the power strip, we need to ensure that the power consumed by the connected devices should not exceed that the power cords could handle. One has to understand that leaving a socket empty does not imply we are using within the capacity of the power strip. Two or three appliances that you connect may be already drawing maximum power. Also, be careful not to overload the electric wiring of the house. Modern power strips come with a surge protector that prevents the devices from getting damaged due to high voltage supply. But it does not guarantee protection from fire.
2. Use power strips for temporary requirements:
Power strips are not a permanent solution. They could be used for additional charging requirements or festive serial lighting, etc., but not for long hours. If you are having more devices and use them daily, it is advisable to install more electric outlets and circuits with the help of an expert.
Also, you should never connect one power strip to another for increasing the outlet numbers. For safety purposes, technicians recommend not to keep them in the same place for more than 90 days. While relocating it, you get to check for damages such as melted plastic or exposed cord. Do remember that keeping the power cord near the junction box is not safe.
3. Keep the power strip in a dry and open place:
We know that water conducts electricity. Current from electric lines or through devices could reach our body through water or moisture. Therefore, one should avoid placing power strips in bathrooms or near kitchen sinks.
Laying the power strip on the floor or near places that are accessible to children and pets is not safe. Children might play by turning them on and off, and pets could accidentally step on a wire and pull it. Placing the power strip under a rug or in a constrained area produces more heat, and fire could spread quickly.
Never use an indoor extension cord for outdoor purposes. The outdoor power supply equipment has a weather-protection guard. You could mount them on a suitable place to avoid insects, dust particles, and moisture. Outdoor activities like garden mowing, pruning, and cleaning might require more power. So, indoor strips may not support heavy-duty machines leading to overheating and sparks.
4. Do not connect power-hungry appliances:
Power strips are suitable for devices like phone chargers, laptops, music instruments, lightings, etc. One should never use them for high voltage items like refrigerators, microwaves, room heaters, air conditioners, and high-end play stations. Such machines draw power continuously and would overload the power strip. They can cause heating, melt the cord’s plastic insulation, and eventually lead to a fire hazard.
Hence, you must choose quality outlet strips with UL or ETL certification. It is necessary as the sub-standard power strips could have weak wires that cannot withstand the mentioned wattage.
5. Look for overloaded signs:
It is a precautionary practice to examine the power strip and cord now and then. At times, there may not be any obvious indication of overloading. But there could be burn marks, molten plastic, or a loose connection due to the structural changes. These signs, when left unattended, could start major fires at home. One should not knot or twist the cord as it increases the heating and also hides the damages. Similarly, you should avoid nailing, stapling the cords. It inhibits the dissipation of heat and also damages the wires.
Power strips are handy equipment, given our ever-increasing dependence on electric and electronic gadgets. However, one has to remember that power strips and extension cords are for supplying power for a brief period. For example, you could use for charging, musical training, special lighting needs, etc. One should not use them for connecting beauty and styling devices. The reason is we hold these products too close and could get affected by an electric shock or spark.
Also, one should go for power strips with internal circuit breakers and an/off switch. These prevent the damage of connected appliances in case of a voltage spike. The power strips are prone to wear and tear. Therefore, looking for signs of damage and replacing them is essential.