How To Keep Your Power Strips From Catching Fire
With the increasing number of electrical appliances and gadgets, the need for power strips is also increasing. Though it seems like a convenient option, power strips are not always a safe option. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), power strips cause more than 3300 fire accidents every year. Overheating and improper usage of the extension cords and power strips are the primary reasons behind it. That said, one cannot merely avoid using power strips entirely. That is because the number of electrical outlets available in homes falls short compared to the number of devices plugged in.
Whether you have a home office setup with a computer, printer, and various other devices or want to make sure that you can conveniently use your kitchen appliances, power cords are ideal options.
The best we can do to protect our home from any fire hazard caused due to power strips and extension cords is by following specific guidelines and using the powerstrips with caution. The preventive measures and ways mentioned below apply to all power strips, be it flat cord power strips or the conventional oval cord ones.
1. Analyze the Capacity
As mentioned earlier, overload on the power strip causes overheating resulting in starting a fire. Always ensure that you do not exceed the capacity of the power strip with the devices you use. The manufacturer usually mentions the capacity of the power strip and extension cord on the packing. Make sure to check the capacity mentioned in watts (W). For instance, if the packing description says the maximum capacity is 1850 W, make sure you do not draw more than 1850 W.
2. Do Not Create a Daisy-chain Setup using Power Strips
It is very crucial to avoid creating a series or a daisy-chain setup by connecting multiple power strips. The cords used in manufacturing the power strips are not of high quality, such as those used inside the power outlets’ walls. Therefore, they should not be used in such a manner. Most people use the daisy-chain setup to make sure the power outlet is within their reach. When those cords with low capacity keep drawing energy, they heat up internally and cause a fire.
3. Manage the Plugged-in Appliances Effectively
Here’s another preventive measure to avoid any fire hazards at home. It is essential to analyze the type of electrical appliances that you are plugging into the power strip. For instance, devices like TV, mobile chargers, and laptop chargers do not require much power to function. Therefore, these do not cause any overload on the power strips. However, energy-consuming devices such as air conditioners, high-ending performance, gaming computers, dehumidifiers, etc., require more power.
These energy-hungry devices keep drawing more power, reducing the power strip’s maximum load capacity or the extension cord. So, to be on the safer side, avoid plugging in multiple energy-hungry devices at once. It is better to avoid using power strips for prolonged use in the same way as the main power outlets situated on the wall.
4. Provide a Proper Outlet for Heat
As mentioned earlier, the power strip heat cords quickly, and the excess heat needs to escape. Most homeowners’ two common mistakes are covering the cord of the power strip that rests on the floor with a rug and using the power strips to run through doorways, ceiling, and walls. In both cases, there is no way for the heat to escape as the cord is covered. Therefore the excess heat causes a fire hazard. As a result, avoid covering the cord at all times to make sure the heat escapes swiftly.
5. Avoid Using Power Strips in a Moist Environment
Check whether you are using any power strips in moist environments where there is a water source nearby. Examples of such environments are kitchen, bathroom, and even outdoors in places with cold climates. If there is an absolute need to use a power strip in such an environment, ensure that you use the suitable one. Moisture resistant powerstrips are safe to use in such cases and prevent any fire hazard. It’s better to take the help of a professional electrician to hardwire a moisture-resistant powerstrip if you need to use it in the garage.
6. Always Buy and Use Quality Certified Power Strips
Always ensure that the power strips and extension cords are quality certified by independent test laboratories (ITL). Check for its rating and make sure whether the amperage rating of the power strip matches your power requirements or not. That way, you can be sure to avoid any instances of overload and, therefore, fire hazards.
7. Monitor Outdoor Power Strips Regularly
Use power strips meant for outdoors if you require one outside the house. While doing so, do not leave the power strip on the ground. Instead, mount it on the wall with the help of a professional electrician. It’s better to monitor the outdoor power strips regularly.
Though power strips appear as convenient options, they are not that safe. So it’s better to install more power outlets on the wall with a professional’s help and depend less on the power strips and extension cords. Do not staple the cord of the power strip to the wall or any other surface. By following the preventive measures mentioned above, you can prevent your power strips from causing a fire hazard.