Power Strip Safety Tips
Power strips have become an essential part of our daily lives. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, headsets, portable chargers – all of these require an outlet and often at the same time. That’s not to mention our home offices where we plug in our computers, speakers, printers, monitors, and all sorts of other necessities. Many households have power strips in multiple rooms, if not every room: hairstyling tools in bathrooms, cooking equipment in the kitchen, and the list goes on.
If a power strip has ten outlets, it’s safe to assume you can go ahead and use them all, right? Not necessarily. Power strips are responsible for many devastating house fires. Follow these power strip safety tips to protect your home and property:
10 things to consider when using a power strip:
- Learn the circuit capacity of the main outlet you are using, as well as the power requirements of the items you plan to plug into your power strip. If the requirements of the devices exceed the circuit capacity, you are overloading the circuit and creating a fire hazard.
- Never use a power strip for extended periods. Unlike outlets in your wall, power strips typically don’t have wires meant to handle extended periods of use.
- If the power strip feels warm or hot, unplug it and replace it immediately.
- Never hide or cover a power strip or extension cord with anything flammable, like a rug, clothing, or paper. Electricity generates heat that needs to disperse. Covering the cord traps the head and dramatically increases the risk for a fire.
- Understand that a surge protector, which is part of some but not all power strips, may protect your electrical equipment (such as your computer) from damage in the event of a surge of electricity, but it does nothing to prevent a fire. If you can afford it, make sure your power strips have a surge protector built-in.
- Using many power strips in your home is a sign that you have too few outlets. For fire prevention, arrange to have more outlets installed at your house and lessen your dependence on power strips. If you find yourself using too many power strips, contact a licensed electrician who can install additional outlets and circuits for your home or business.
- Never create a “daisy chain” with power strips. This means plugging one power strip into another power strip to increase the number of outlets. Power strips are not designed to be used this way, and doing so can result in a fire.
- Do not use standard power strips in damp environments, such as a bathroom, a kitchen countertop, or a garage without climate control. If you have to use one, make sure it is specifically designed for these conditions. You can also have a professional electrician hardwire a moisture-resistant one and mount it to a wall.
- Outside, there are many hazards, including moist weather, falling debris, and insects, all of which can compromise the safety of a power strip. Make sure you use power strips that are designed for outdoor use. It is a good idea to have it mounted to a wall rather than left on the ground.
- Make sure all power strips you buy are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories) certified and rated for the appropriate amount of amperage according to your needs. Choosing one with more amperage than you require is smart and can help you avoid an overload.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your power strip, such as a failure to work, power interruptions, or high heat, unplug it and replace it immediately. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), fire and lightening account for 35% of all insurance claims. Don’t become a part of that statistic. Keep your home and all of your electronic devices safe with the right power strip, preferably with a surge protector built-in.