What would we do without our handy power strips? Those convenient blocks of electrical sockets, which enable us to convert one outlet into several, make it possible to plug in all the gear that we can’t live without these days. A typical location for a power strip is the home office, where it helps computers, speakers, printer, monitors, and all sorts of other necessities come to life. But many households have power strips in multiple rooms, if not every room, since there are so many items that require plugging in these days. Hairstyling tools, cooking equipment, and phone chargers come to mind!
If a power strip has 10 outlets, it’s safe to assume you can go ahead and use them all, right? Not necessarily. In fact, power strips are culprits in many devastating house fires. Use the following power strip safety tips to protect your home and property:
•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 items exceed the circuit capacity, you are overloading the circuit and creating a fire hazard.
•Understand that a surge protector, which is a facet 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; it does not function to prevent fires.
•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 reliance on power strips.
•Never “piggy back” or create a “daisy chain” with power strips. This means plugging one power strip into another power strip to markedly 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 moist environments, such as a bathroom, a kitchen countertop, or a garage that is not climate controlled. Water and power strips don’t mix, and if they do, a fire may result. If you must use a fire strip in an area that is prone to moisture, buy one that is specially designed to be safe in such conditions. If you require a power strip in your garage, have a professional electrician hard wire a moisture-resistant one and mount it to a wall.
•Outside, there are many hazards, including moist weather, falling debris, and even insects, all of which can compromise the safety of a power strip. There are power strips designed for outdoor use; only these are appropriate for use outside of the house. As is the case with garage power strips, it’s smart to have an outdoor power strip mounted to a wall rather than left on the ground.
•Know what you are buying. When you shop for power strips, look for the following: make sure they are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratories) certified; make sure you choose a power strip that is rated for the appropriate amount of amperage according to your needs. Choosing one that is rated for more amperage than you require is okay-this can help you avoid an overload.
Needless to say, if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your power strip, such as a failure to work, don’t wait and see what happens, replace it promptly. Some electronics recycling services take unwanted power strips, as well as a variety of other materials, like USB cords and more, for green disposal.