Extension cords: new safety standards set

The extension cord is one of the most useful electrical devices for a home -- and one that can also be dangerous if not handled properly. New manufacturer standards have been set to make extension cors safer.

The new standards apply to two-wire supply light duty extension cords and power supply cords for appliances. The new design includes recessed contacts to reduce shock hazard, better fit because of improvements in slots, a gripping section for easier insertion and removal, and permanently attached closure devices to cover unused outlet slots. Instructions for proper use must be attached to each cord set.

"There are all backups to the best safety measure, and that is parents watching their children," says John Peterson, a research engineer at Underwriters Laboratories, which wrote the new standards because of concern over injuries to children.

Since the standards were adopted last October, many stores may still carry old extension cords.

Users should keep extension cords out of the reach of children. Unplug the cord when it is not in use. Make sure connections are complete.

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