With summer approaching the time is right for finding the right solution to powering outdoor lighting, cooking needs, outdoor entertainment center, power tools, and lawn accessories. Choosing the right outdoor extension cord is critical in avoiding a damaged product that could lead to a dangerous situation. In addition to having the right extension cord for the job, here are a few tips to ensure you are up to standards on extension cord safety.

One of the most obvious tasks is also one of the most important. Because outdoor extension cords are exposed to elements such as extreme heat, snow, and rain, it is critical that you are periodically inspecting the extension cord for damages. Any kind of damage or exposure of wires will increase the risks of electric shock or fire.

Unfortunately, many users will not think twice about plugging an extension cord into another extension cord to increase the length of the power cord. Why this may seem like a quick solution to an immediate problem, it increases the risks of an incident. The reason for this is the exposure between where the two cords meet. This is now an exposure in your line that could potentially cause an issue. By choosing a cord that is the right length for your project, you remove this risk from the project.

Let’s return to the right cord for the right job. Many cords on the market are specifically rated for indoor/outdoor use. Even though an indoor cord may look hardy, it may not be equipped to handle the elements and hazards associated with the outdoors. For outdoor cord use, some questions you might want to ask include:

Does my cord come with outdoor weather covers?

Is the gauge of wiring appropriate for outdoor use?

Is the cord long enough for my project?

Does my cord have LED lighting for improved visibility?

Does my cord have any additional features to improve proper storage?

While many of the above points may appear on the side of the obvious – Remember this: The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 4,700 residential fires can arise due to misuse of extensions cords. The estimate further goes on to state that this is responsible for killing or injuring at least 300 people. It’s better to review standard procedure and invest in a quality cord than to take the risks of a cheap/quick fix. Ensure that both your indoor and outdoor cords are being properly used, without any damage, nor overuse.